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Wesleyan boys win state in Class AA, girls runner-up

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CARROLLTON - Wesleyan head coach Brian Kennerly admits his team laughs at him when he tells them to run in a pack.

"Pack running, they make fun of me because I say it so much," Kennerly said. "But when running gets tough it's hard not to step up and keep up with your teammates."

The Wolves may laugh, but they also listen, using the pack-running philosophy to claim their fourth boys state title in six years.

All seven Wesleyan runners finished in the top 15, including two packs of three. The lead runner, Freddy Akers was the only Wesleyan runner to finish alone, when he finished fourth with a time of 16 minutes and 52 seconds.

"Freddy Akers epitomizes what it means to be a runner," Kennerly said. "When he started as a freshmen he was in the bottom 10 percent of the team ... now he is one of the top runners in the state by his senior year."

Just one place removed from Akers' fourth, came a trio of Wolves in Matt Gossett, Matt Hanlon and Harrison Dykes finishing sixth, seventh and eighth.

The final pack of Ryan Matherly, Kyle Buckley and Travis Smith finished 13th, 14th and 15th.

On the girls side, the Wolves placed three runners in the top 10, but it wasn't enough to topple Lovett, which edged Wesleyan out for the girls AA title with 49 points to the Wolves 71.

"I couldn't be happier, the girls were incredible," Wesleyan head coach Dan Byrne said. "They feel good about how they did."

Sophomore Jane Strader led the way for Wesleyan finishing fourth with a time of 20:20. Behind her, sophomore Kiersten White finished eighth and freshmen Jordan Jackson finished ninth.

Also running in AA was Buford's Summer Nelson, who earned an individual spot in the state meet and took full advantage, finishing second with a time of 20:06.

"My goal was to beat Haley (Kolff)," Nelson said. "In the beginning I stayed on her shoulder. I gave everything I had and the Lord gave me energy in the end."

Gwinnett's lone representative in Class A, Providence Christian, saw its girls team finish second and boys finish fifth. Mary Katherine Mills led the way for the girls with a time of 20:35.62 and Eric Mills paced the boys team finishing in 18:13.96.

In Class AAAA, the Dacula boys, led by Obed Pacheco who finished ninth, ended the day in second place. On the girls side, Dacula's Brianna Adinolf finished in 22:41 to lead her team to a 23rd-place finish.