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North Hall's Nix, White County's Gearing take Region 7-AAA titles
North Hall boys, White County girls carry team titles
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Region 7-AAA meet
Team totals
Boys
1. North Hall    
2. West Hall
3. Buford
4. Dawson County
5. White County
6. Banks County
7. Fannin County

Girls
1. White County
2. North Hall
3. West Hall
4. Dawson County
5. Buford
6. Banks County
7. Fannin County
8. East Hall

Top 10 boys finishers
1. Witt Nix     North Hall    15:54.2
2. Tucker LoCicero     North Hall    16:19.1
3. Bryce Schuebert    North Hall    16.40.9
4. Seth Chapman    North Hall    16:44.8
5. Dylan Forester    Dawson County    16:45.8
6. Austin Thompson    White County    16:46.1
7. Jose Diaz    Banks County    16:46.5
8. Zack Hill    North Hall    16:47.8
9. Bailey Pless    North Hall    16:55.7
10. Quintin Miles    North Hall    16:57.9

Girls 10 Top finishers
1. Jenna Gearing    White County    18:43.7
2. Victoria Rogers    North Hall    19:46.5
3. Kristen Mitchell    White County    20:01.7
4. Ryan Sharry    West Hall    20:11
5. Taylor Long    West Hall    20:25
6. Makayla Ellis    North Hall    20:33.7
7. Kaelyn Deal    Fannin County    20:34.7
8. Katie McDowell     North Hall    20:35.7
9. Megan Norris    White County    20:52.2
10. Kaitlyn Gearing    White County    21:03.7

For the Region 7-AAA team champions in Thursday’s meet at Unicoi State Park, it all started with the runner at the top. North Hall’s Witt Nix breezed to the individual region title with a blistering time of 15 minutes, 55 seconds and led the Trojans to the team championship at the race hosted by White County High in Helen.

In the girls race, White County freshman Jenna Gearing took the title by more than a minute (18:44) as her team edged out North Hall for the team championship and berth to the state meet.

“It feels amazing to win the region championship,” said Gearing, who broke her own personal best and course record from earlier this season at Unicoi.

The top four teams and any individual in the top six overall without a team headed to state will run in the state championship for Class AA-AAAAAA on Nov. 10 in Carrollton. In order of finish on the boys side qualified for state are North Hall (18 points), West Hall (80), Buford (98) and Dawson County (110). The top four on the girls side are White County (34), North Hall (42), West Hall (84) and Dawson County (131).

White County boys runner Austin Thompson placed sixth overall and is headed to state as an individual qualifier with a time of 16:47.

The most dominating team performance at 7-AAA belonged to North Hall’s boys. The first four runners to cross the finish line were all Trojans, and all seven placed under 17 minutes and in the top 10.

“We ran really well today as a team and gives us hope for the state meet,” said second-place finisher Tucker LoCicero.

Nix said his region-winning performance was a direct result of top-notch coaching and tapering leading into the race. He ran his best mile right out of the gate with a 5:05, which set the tempo for the remainder of the five-kilometer run.

“That was a big confidence boost running the first mile so fast,” Nix said.

After Nix showed a strong burst to take the lead early, he led by about 75 yards before the final lap through the woods and half-mile stretch to the finish line. Nix sprinted the final 200 yards all alone and with the clock at the finish line in sight.

Nix broke his own personal best by nine seconds and his best time by 39 seconds on the Unicoi Course. With the win, a North Hall boys runner has won its respective meet for seven years straight.

North Hall’s Bryce Schuebert finished third overall (16:41) and Seth Chapman was fourth (16:45). Dawson County’s Dylan Forester placed fifth (16:46).

Gearing, meanwhile, improved on her own state-best time in all of Class AAA this season. Earlier, she ran an 18:49 in the Mountain Invitational in Helen. White County coach Sam Borg says Gearing will have a shot at winning the state title.

By the time the region meet rolled around, Gearing was used to running alone for the finish line. She’s also won races at West Hall, Berry College and last weekend at the Last Chance Invitational in Carrollton.

Borg is equally excited that his girls program is headed back to state after placing third in Region 8-AAA last season.

“We didn’t expect to have such a big season with no seniors this season,” Gearing said.

Kristen Mitchell of White County placed third (20:02). Lady Warriors runners Megan Norris was ninth and Kaitlyn Gearing finished 10th.

For North Hall, Victoria Rogers was runner-up (19:47), Makayla Ellis placed sixth (20:34) and Katie McDowell earned eighth (20:36).

West Hall finished third overall behind Ryan Sharry (fourth) and Taylor Long (fifth).

Regional events