OAKWOOD — The North Hall boys cross country team cruised to victory despite missing one of its key pieces in the Region 7-AAA meet Friday at Gainesville State College. Now the question becomes, how will the Trojans squad fare at full strength at the state championships next Saturday in Carrollton?
With Reese Walker out of the race due to the flu, North Hall (38 points) still placed three runners in the top six to finish well ahead of second-place Flowery Branch (62). North Hall coach Patricia Zaudtke expects Walker to be ready to run next weekend in the finals as the Trojans aim for the second state title in the program’s history.
“This team has worked so hard all season and to see them run like they did today, I’m speechless,” Zaudtke said. “We came out here to pour out our hearts into running well, and they did.”
Meanwhile, Flowery Branch’s Kiara Woods finished second in the girls race (19 minutes, 25 seconds) and led the Lady Falcons to a team title. Flowery Branch (63 points) edged out Creekview (66), Lambert (82) and North Hall (85) for the title. All four of the top teams automatically qualify for the state field.
At state, Woods is looking for another strong showing after placing second (19:04) last year.
“Carrollton is a great course and Kiara always runs well there,” Flowery Branch coach Jimmy Sorrells said.
On the boys side, North Hall senior Ty McCormack dominated, winning with a time of 16:35. Although he started the race slow to navigate the sloppy terrain, he quickly picked up his pace to take a commanding lead after the first mile. This was McCormack’s first region title after placing third last year.
“It was a great race, I just went out very conservative with the wet course,” McCormack said. “It was extremely slow running on the course today.”
Lambert’s Trevor Grant finished second (16:47), North Hall’s Cody Barger placed third (17:03), followed by a pair of Flowery Branch runners with David Farist in fourth (17:12) and Kenny Slavik fifth (17:19). North Hall’s Brandon Lawson finished sixth (17:23).
Joining North Hall and Flowery Branch at state for the boys will be Creekview and first-year Forsyth County program Lambert.
Individually, the girls race belonged to Lambert’s Allie Schaich. The Lady Longhorns’ junior led from start to finish and won with a time of 19:07. Schaich came into Lambert’s program from South Forsyth High when the new school district was rezoned. Last year, she placed fifth in Region 7-AAAAA.
Schaich’s familiarity with the Gainesville State course helped after finishing third at the Coach Wood Invitational two weeks ago, on what was also a muddy track. She’s hoping for a state title in Class AAA to go along with wins this season at the Wendy’s Invitational (18:04) in Charlotte, N.C., and at Carrollton.
Schaich’s teammate Leanne Zimmer placed third (20:10), Creekview’s Cori Dulmage finished fourth (20:30), West Forsyth’s Kat Gibson placed fifth (20:54) and Taylor Roeck, also from West Forsyth, finished sixth (20:55).