By CHRIS GOLTERMANN
ACWORTH — The third annual Big Peach Mustang Stampede cross-country meet could have been renamed the Big Preview after six of the 12 teams from Area 2-7A got a chance to get an early look at its championship course later this season.
And Newnan’s boys team may be among those who liked what they saw, both along the ride and in the final results.
In their third straight week of competition, the Cougars captured the varsity boys title in a finish that had five 2-7A schools placing among the top six.
Newnan’s score of 80 held off Marietta for first, with East Coweta taking fourth behind Roswell.
The Indians’ posted a 155 with two of the top seven individual finishers led by junior Kyle Harkabus’ third straight victory.
He again set the pace for the field before crossing in 15:57.45 on a warm, sunny morning, conditions that most likely won’t be in place at Allatoona Creek Park when teams return on Oct. 24, in a Wednesday afternoon setting for the area meet.
Harkabus’ time was a second faster than his victory on Sep. 1 at Starr’s Mill.
Senior Braden Ray was seventh in 17:21 while crossing with Newnan’s top finisher, junior Bo Palmer.
The Cougars had four of the top 20 placers and six within the top 25, all with times under 18 minutes. Juniors Beck James and Caeden Greer were 12th and 18th, respectively, in 17:26 and 17:34. Senior Will Thomas was the fourth Newnan runner to cross in 17:40.
Junior Jace Jessup (22nd, 17:44) quickly finished the Cougars scoring with both junior Bryson Houston (25th, 17:51) and sophomore Russell Smith (26th, 17:55) providing sixth and seventh runners for Newnan with sub 18-minute efforts.
Trinity Christian’s boys placed 17th led by Michael Freeman’s 10th place performance in 17:23. Junior Adam Granade finished among the top 30, placing 28th in 18:01 to also pace the Lions’ effort.
East Coweta’s boys had its remaining five runners behind Harkabus and Ray cross the finish line among a pack between 18:24 where brothers Konner and Kade Johnson were 46th and 47th, respectively, and 18:34, where a trio of Colby Butts, Jack Cliett and Jacob Smith finished almost identically side-by-side.
Newnan’s average of 17:33 gave them a 10 second advantage over rival East Coweta.
Trinity’s boys scorers also included sophomore Joshua Olson (117th, 20:56), freshman Josiah Lenarz (133rd, 22:24) and sophomore Carter McCabe (140th, 23:35).
Varsity girls lineups from East Coweta and Newnan finished sixth and eighth, respectively, both behind fourth-place North Paulding and fifth-place Kennesaw Mountain among 2-7A finishers.
Woodland’s girls dominated the meet with a 24, followed by Etowah (53) and Roswell (82) in second and third.
Sophomore Shannon Ferry remained steady as the top local finisher, placing 20th in 21:41 for the Lady Indians.
Trinity’s girls, who were limited to four runners, were led by senior Sami Bourque’s 23rd place time of 21:53, while Newnan was paced by junior Grace Smith’s finish in 39th at 22:36.
East Coweta’s girls scorers included freshman Megan Carr (45th, 22:59) and senior Holly Hind (48th, 23:10) along with freshman Madysen Ben and junior Morgan Carr. The latter pair crossed together in 23:51 to place 58th and 59th, respectively.
Newnan seniors Sydney Hall (43rd, 22:47) and Rachel Woods (50th, 23:13) were on Smith’s heels at the finish among scorers for the Lady Cougars. Junior Annie Johnston (65th, 23:58) was Newnan’s fourth runner to cross with sophomores Natalie Brauchler (67th, 24:03) and Ila Clare Whitlock (70th, 24:08) both battling for the team’s No. 5 scorer.
Behind Bourque for Trinity’s girls were junior Faith Robertson (41st, 22:42) and freshman Sarah Nelson (60th, 23:52).
Local runners also included freshman Sarah Ullom (95th, 25:20) and junior Shelly Poe (99th, 25:26) for East Coweta, sophomore Megan Jackson (106th, 26:15) for Newnan and Sarah Hurt(115th, 28:00) for Trinity.
JV BOYS: Newnan and East Coweta battled behind Roswell to place second and third, respectively.
Cougars junior Gray Frederick took second overall in 18:21 to lead six local runners that placed in the top 20. Newnan teammates Zachery Johns (12th, 19:24), Jack Palmer (13th, 19:25) and Joshua Ward (17th, 19:40) were among that group, while Patrick Boren (33rd, 19:57) and junior Thad Allen (37th, 19:58) battled for the No. 5 scorer.
East Coweta was led by Aidan Rush’s sixth-place effort in 18:52 while joined by junior Alex Taylor (11th, 19:20) among top-20 finishers.
Scorers for the Indians also included Xavier Church (22nd, 19:45) and Louis Skinner (25th, 19:50) among the top 25. Sophomore J.T. Ratzlaff (30th, 19:53) was the team’s fifth runner.
JV GIRLS: East Coweta and Newnan placed 10th and 11th, respectively, with Lady Cougars Maelyn Strickland (49th, 26:43) and Grace Shay (55th, 27:02) among the first two local runners to cross along with East Coweta freshman Melissa Antrim (55th, 27:02).
Scorers for the Lady Indians also included Emily Haberman (67th, 27:17), Mary Ellen Goltermann (75th, 27:23) and Aubrey Kurnick (77th, 27:30), with Kaley Rupnow (80th, 27:39) grabbing the No. 5 spot just ahead of teammate Cate Drew (81st, 27:43).
Newnan’s scorers behind Strickland and Shay included Chloe Gwinn (82nd, 27:43), eighth grader Sara James (94th, 28:26) and Michaela Fuller (96th, 28:32.
MIDDLE SCHOOL BOYS: Trinity Christian placed fourth overall while led by eighth grader Nicholas Andrews’ sixth-place finish in 12:09 on the two-mile course.
Eighth graders Dylan DePriest (14th, 12:29) and Caleb Bethea (18th, 12:35) both finished in the top 20 among a field of 181 runners.
Scorers for the Lions also included seventh grader Eli Rose (40th, 13:15) and eighth-grader Blane Jaffe (49th, 13:41).
WELLONS, LORD LEAD HERITAGE TEAMS AT LAFAYETTE CHRISTIAN
Heritage School teams competed at last Thursday’s varsity meet at Lafayette Christian School in LaGrange with Sovi Wellons and Koby Lord leading respective girls and boys teams with first place finishes.
A team effort included highlights from Addie Williams and Kellson Wall.