Cross country teams ready for state meet


Senior Morgan Vaden has broken her own school record three separate times this season, most recently with a 17:48 at the Great American XC Festival in October. Both the boys’ and girls’ cross country teams will compete for state titles tomorrow morning in Carrollton, GA.

The cross country teams will try and bring home two more state titles tomorrow morning as they compete on a soggy, muddy course in Carrollton, GA. With temperatures expected to be in the 30s when the goes goes off at 9 am for the boys and 9:45 am for the girls, the weather conditions are radically different than when the season began three months ago.

Rewind to August. Right as the bell rings at 2:56 pm, most students headed to their hot cars to go home, but the girls on the cross country team instead got ready for a full afternoon of practice in the sweltering, record-setting heat. They may have dreaded the weather, but not the satisfying feeling of finishing a tough workout and the heavenly reward of chocolate milk (more on that later). 

There were a few changes on the girls’ team this year. For the first time in more than two decades, there was new head coach, Counselor Mrs. Mary Pat Martin. 

“As a first year head coach, I am amazed with this season. This team and the seniors have been phenomenal. They are not only kind to one and other, but they are performing week after week, meet after meet, and continue to raise the bar,” Coach Martin said. 

Another difference this year is that there were only five seniors on the team of more than 60 runners.  

“We were worried that the lack of seniors would be problematic for leadership, senior captain Katie Meyer explained, “but all the seniors have taken [on] a huge leadership role and I am so hopeful for this season.”

In addition to Meyer, seniors Morgan Vaden, Emily Wood, Aggie Brewster, and Tyler Feild provided veteran leadership as well by leading drills, getting to know the underclassmen while driving them to off-campus practices, and cheering on the girls in races. 

Their first meet of the season in August was scheduled to at Jekyll Island, but due to bad weather from Hurricane Dorian, they instead went to a race Mobile, Alabama, followed by time at the beach in Pensacola, Florida.

“I was super excited to hear we were still going to the beach and competing in a race, but I was still scared Dorian would catch up to us,” Vaden said. 

Junior Eva Davis enjoyed the weekend at the beach as well. 

“My favorite thing was the bus rides and tan lines” she said.

For Vaden, this was a season of redemption. After missing the end of last year with an injury, she was determined to make her senior year the best one yet. Week after week, she continued to set new school records. She first broke the school record in September at the Warpath Invitational with a time of 18:02, then again the following week with a time of 17:56 at the Wingfoot XC Classic, and one final time in October at the Great American XC Festival with a 17:48.

“Morgan Vaden has cultivated her passion for running through endless dedication and perseverance, and on top of that shows compassion for others and has a smile that can brighten anyone’s day,” Coach Martin said. 

Vaden had offers to run in college from the University of Georgia, the University of Tennessee, and Georgia Tech, but she ultimately chose to be a Bulldog in Athens.

“I was super excited to announce my commit to University of Georgia and cannot wait to see what happens next after this stressful decision” she said.

Now back to what you truly wanted to know more about, chocolate milk. Most people would agree that chocolate milk usually tastes chalky and thick, but for cross country runners it’s the perfect recovery drink after a tough day at practice. 

“After that workout man, it tastes like straight water but in the best way possible,” Wood said. “It’s so refreshin., I’m not trying to expose myself here, but one cup is never enough.” 

Both the girls’ and boys’ teams chugged chocolate milk last weekend while celebrating their first place finishes at the region meet, and they hope to celebrate again tomorrow morning at the state meet with first place medals around their necks.