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High school cross country: North Hall sweeps region championships at Unicoi State Park
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The North Hall girls cross country team won the Region 8-4A championship Oct. 25, 2022 at Unicoi State Park in Helen. Photo courtesy Sam Borg For The Times.

North Hall’s boys and girls cross country teams both had a big day at the Region 8-4A championship meet Tuesday at Unicoi State Park in Helen.

The girls team dominated the field, with individual champion Clodagh O’Bryant leading a group of all five of the team’s scorers placing in the top six finishers to win the team title with 17 points, well ahead of runner-up North Oconee’s total of 72.

Meanwhile, the Trojan boys rode the momentum of top 10 individual finishes from Bryant Young, Jaycob Wagner and Elijah Jernigan to finish with 54 points and edge out Chestatee and East Forsyth for the region’s team championship.

“Really, our boys have been a sleeper pick all year,” North Hall coach Sam Borg said. “They haven’t had the same accolades as the girls. So, I’m really proud of the boys stepping up (Tuesday). Everybody kind of did their job and ran as well as they could.

“(The girls were) phenomenal. Just like any season, we’ve dealt with a couple of injuries and had to sit some girls out along the way. (Tuesday) was the first race we’ve had all seven girls together since five weeks ago. So, it’s good to be healthy right now and (have) all seven girls ready for state next Saturday.”

O’Bryant finished in a time of 19 minutes, 10.9 seconds to pace the girls field, with North Hall teammate Abi Moore hitting the finish line a little over 40 seconds later at 19:50 to finish as individual runner-up.

Not far behind were Harleigh Smith in third at 20:06.2, Jessie Dubnik in fifth at 20:32.71 and Makayala Jones in sixth at 20:56.8.

Though they didn’t count in the team score, Ali Moore placed 10th at 22:26.6 and Emma Morrow finished 11th in 22:28.4 to give the Trojans seven runners among the top 11 individuals as they head into the Class 4A state meet Nov. 5 in Carrollton.

In addition to North Oconee, two other Hall County schools will join North Hall in representing the region in the state meet.

Chestatee had Caroline Bull (seventh, 21:11.50) and Izzy Wintermantel (ninth, 21:55.50) in the top 10 to finish third with 75 points, while Cherokee Bluff rode the fourth-place finish of Adison Myers (20:17.10) and eighth-place finish of Annalise Black (21:40.60) to finish fourth with 79 points.

In the boys race, Young paced North Hall with a time of 17:25.70, trailing only champion Alex Arrambie of East Forsyth (15:56.10) and runner-up Aaron Retana of Chestatee (16:34.71).

Meanwhile, the Trojans also got top-10 finishes by Wagner (sixth, 17:35.50) and Jernigan (seventh, 17:49.70).

Chestatee wasn’t far behind, with Retana joined by Javier Rebollar (fifth, 17:30.10) and Eli Chaffin (10th, 18:06.70) to lead the War Eagles to a runner-up finish with 65 points.

Cherokee Bluff’s Parker Snelson placed eighth in a time of 17:52.50 to lead the Bears to a fourth-place team finish with 72 points and a berth in the state meet along with North Hall, Chestatee and East Forsyth.

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