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High school cross country: Defending state champion Chestatee boys paced by twins with matching ambition
Gavin Grater, left, and his twin brother Garrett are senior leaders for the defending state champion Chestatee boys cross country program.

Chestatee High has a pair of highly decorated and ambitious runners who have career aspirations even loftier than their expectations for the 2021 cross country season. 

And it just so happens that they are twins. 

Gavin and Garrett Grater, now seniors, anchor the defending Class 4A state champion War Eagles. Both brothers remain optimistic that with 5 of their top 7 runners returning from last year, they can make it a repeat at Carrollton. 

“We’re super excited for this season and have put in a lot of hard work running to get ready,” said Garrett, who took sixth individually with a time of 17 minutes, 11 seconds at the state meet in 2020. 

With 2020 state runner-up Luke Gaddis having graduated from Chestatee, Gavin Grater, who took third last season at state (16:58), is its top returning runner. The War Eagles have ample depth to make the school’s first back-to-back state championship program a reality. 

However, the Grater brothers aren’t going to rest on their past success. 

This past summer was their most rigorous training, regularly targeting the runner-friendly roads around downtown Gainesville to Riverside Military Academy and out to Lakeview Academy. 

Gavin said as the season progresses, their mileage will continue to increase to build up stamina for the most important races, once the weather starts to cool off a bit. 

“Soon, we’ll get up to about 60 miles a week,” Gavin said. 

The love of running for these two War Eagles seniors didn’t manifest until middle school. 

Growing up swimming, Gavin and Garrett gravitated to the social aspect of being able to chat with friends while training and seeing all the different sites, which doesn’t happen in the pool. 

Both sports run in the family, as their older sister, Lindsey was a talented runner and swimmer at Chestatee, who then went on to join the swimming program at the University of Tampa. 

Both Grater brothers work at the Frances Meadows Aquatics Center, in Gainesville, but are fully invested in running cross country and track and field. 

They’ll leave a work shift and slip on their running shoes and go out for a long run around town. 

One thing they enjoy, and they both think separates local runners, is the ability to conquer the hilly terrain in Hall County. 

Both Graters are equally enthusiastic about cross country season. 

Deep in his mind, Garrett said he thinks about what it would be like to cross the finish line 1-2 at the state meet in 2021. 

Even though they don’t talk about it often, he said that feeling would be hard to describe. 

In Class 4A, the Graters are the top two returning boys runners in Class 4A, based off results from last year’s state championship. 

“That would be really cool to be able to have that photo of us crossing the finish line together, first and second,” Garrett said. 

Trying to be the best is something that Gavin and Garrett share academically. 

Both are ranked in the top 5 of their senior class at Chestatee, Garrett said. 

While Gavin is interested in pursuing a career in civil engineering, his brother is fascinated with computers and wants to go into cybersecurity. 

“We’re both go-getters,” Garrett said. “We set goals and accomplish them.”

Running cross country in college is a possibility but not a priority, as both indicated that starting at the University of North Georgia is likely, even though the school does not have a cross country program.

Garrett’s fascination for the computer world blossomed from a class he took as a freshman. 

Since then, he’s built a computer and continued to update parts, as he sees fit. 

Gavin said he shares more similarities with Garrett than differences. 

They like the same foods. 

Have similar friends. 

The personality differences are only subtle. 

Gavin said his twin brother is a bit more outgoing. 

Still, they enjoy every moment together and are continuing to blaze a distance-running legacy with the War Eagles. 

The end goal is the same for these fraternal twins. 

“It would be amazing to win another state championship,” Gavin said. “It would bring a lot of pride to our school.”

Top 5 To Watch


1. Sr. Gavin Grater, Chestatee: Top returner from Class 4A state championship squad that had four runners in the top 10 overall. 

2. Sr. Garrett Grater, Chestatee: Finished sixth at state meet in 2021 for the War Eagles. 

3. So. Austin Click, Cherokee Bluff: Established as one of the top young distance runners in Class 3A after a strong showing in the 3200 meter during track and field season in 2021. 

4. So. Javier Rebollar, Chestatee: Took 10th place in state as a freshman. 

5. Jr. John Jessup, Gainesville: Second-place finisher at Hall County championship in 2020. Established as a strong distance runner during 2021 track and field season. 


1. Sr. Ashley Thompson, Gainesville: Senior who finished state runner-up in Class 7A and at Hall County in 2020. She won the state title in the 3200 meter run in track and field in 2021. 

2. Jr. Adison Myers, Cherokee Bluff: Took third place in Class 3A and has placed at state championship meet each year in high school. 

3. Jr. Bella Brick, Flowery Branch: Earned seventh place at cross country state meet in 2020. 

4. So. Abi Moore, North Hall: Fifth-place finisher at state meet as a freshman. 

5. So. Makayla Jones, North Hall: Took 12th place at state meet as a freshman. 

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