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High school cross country: Pair of seniors with stellar careers win their first county championship
Red Elephants boys, North Hall girls carry team titles at the North Hall Community Center
Gainesville's John Jessup crosses the finish line to win the Hall County championship on Sept. 24, 2022 at the North Hall Community Center. - photo by Bill Murphy

The Hall County championship was a crowning achievement for a pair of seniors who have sustained impressive cross country careers. 

Gainesville’s John Jessup led from beginning to end, running a superb time of 15 minutes, 54 seconds to claim his first hometown championship Saturday at the North Hall Community Center. 

In the girls race, it was a similar story as Flowery Branch’s Bella Brick made a spirited charge to the front late and won with a time of 19:25, two seconds ahead of North Hall’s Harleigh Smith. 

After a chilly start with the temperature at about 51 degrees, Jessup went out particularly fast, running his first mile in 4:50 and hitting two miles at 10:04, he said. 

On the final stretch, Jessup was able to give it one final kick to finish 10 seconds ahead of runner-up Aaron Retana of Chestatee. 

“I’m really happy,” Jessup said. “I had a lot of family able to come out and watch me run today, so it feels great." 

In addition to the overall winner, Gainesville got a third-place finish from Conner Proffitt (16:22) and sixth-place overall from David Islas (17:22) to earn the team championship. 

Rounding out the top five individually, North Hall’s Bryant Young earned fourth (16:30) and Elijah Jernigan took fifth (17:21).

Meanwhile, North Hall’s girls repeated as county champion, thanks to a fourth-place finish by Jessie Dubnik (19:58) and fifth-place spot by Abi Moore (20:25). 

Cherokee Bluff’s Adison Myers claimed third, running a 19:54.

Brick made her move late in the race, taking advantage of the downhill portion through the woods on the final loop to close the gap on Smith, she said. 

With it neck and neck for the final straightaway, going slightly downhill to the finish line, Brick said she gave it everything she had to pull ahead and cross the line first. 

“I couldn’t feel my legs any more when I hit the finish line,” Brick said. “I was set on trying to win the race.”

Team standings 


1. Gainesville

2. Chestatee

3. North Hall

4. Flowery Branch

5. Cherokee Bluff

6. Johnson

7. West Hall

8. Lanier Christian

9. Riverside Military


1. North Hall

2. Gainesville

3. Flowery Branch

4. Cherokee Bluff

5. Chestatee

6. Lanier Christian

7. Johnson

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