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No worries
Collins Hill sweeps team, individual honors

DULUTH - Andrew Hudson did it to himself.

This past week, leading up to the Region 7-AAAAA cross country meet, the Collins Hill head coach suffered bouts of anxiety.

"I've been a mess all week and I haven't been able to figure out why," Hudson said. "I think maybe it is just the stress of knowing how high a bar we've raised. It gets more challenging every year, but we've got to keep trying to do it because we don't want to go backwards."

His Eagles did anything but go backwards Saturday.

In both the boys and girls races it was all Collins Hill sweeping the individual and team titles. The runners up in both races were also Eagles.

Amanda Winslow won the girls race by 28 seconds with a time of 17 minutes, 42 seconds, followed by teammate Nicky Akande in 18:10.

And the boys side was a repeat with Philip O'Brien winning in 15:48 with teammate Rob Manning right behind in 15:55.

"Sweeping the individual and team titles at region is something we've been trying to do for while and we finally did it today and we are just very, very excited," Hudson said. "These kids are amazing. They work so hard. It's very rewarding on a day like today."

From the start, the girls race was not a competition. Winslow jumped out to a lead and kept building on it for most of the race. When she crossed the finish, she stood there alone, waiting for someone to come join her.

"It was pretty comfortable. I felt really good most of the race," Winslow said. "It just went perfectly as I planned."

The plan entering the race was for Winslow to break 18 minutes.

"She shattered that," Hudson said of his top runner's new personal record.

On the girls side, The top non-Collins Hill finisher was North Gwinnett's Nicole DiMercurio in third with a time of 18:19, Collins Hill's Allyson McGinty (18:23) finished fourth, North's Laura Serres (18:24) fifth and the Eagle's Briana Crawford (19:04) sixth.

Joining Collins Hill and North (second) next week at the state meet in Carrollton are Peachtree Ridge (third) and Mill Creek (fourth).

On the boys side, O'Brien wasn't going for speed.

"I ran this race just to win. Not really for time," he said. "I am not too disappointed."

And he shouldn't be. After watching a pair of runners sprint out to a lead in the first 600 meters, O'Brien kept pace, took a lead and never gave it back.

"I don't mind, it helps me," O'Brien said of the early pace-setters. "They are always in the races. You can't let them dictate your race, but they helped set the pace that first 800 so it was good for me."

Said Hudson: "He ran a very heroic race. He basically led from the beginning. He took charge at about 600 meters and he held it from there. This time of year you have to consider tactics a lot more than time."

Teammate Manning (15:55) finished second behind O'Brien with Peachtree Ridge's Niall Longobardi (15:57) finishing third, Mill Creek's Colin Conroy (15:58) fourth, Peachtree Ridge's Robert Fensterer (16:23) fifth and South Forsyth's Gator Jackson (16:23) in sixth.

The boys teams headed to state with Collins Hill are Peachtree Ridge (second), Mill Creek (third) and South Forsyth (fourth).

But with a dominating region sweep it is Collins Hill carrying the momentum into next Saturday's state championship race and Hudson likes both his team's chances on a hilly course.

"We train a lot more for the hills. We train for strength. We train for hills," he said. "I think we'll shine more next week, I hope.

"We don't want to be satisfied by any stretch of the imagination because I want this to be just a small taste of what they are going to feel next week, I hope. We want to keep the ball rolling."

SideBar: Region 7-AAAAA cross country

Region 7-AAAAA Championships

At River Green Complex, Duluth

Saturday's results

Boys

Team standings

1. Collins Hill, 38

2. Peachtree Ridge, 61

3. Mill Creek, 86

4. South Forsyth, 91

5. North Gwinnett, 95

6. Norcross, 139

7. Duluth, 217

8. Forsyth Central, 222

9. North Forsyth, 266

Top-10 individuals

1. Philip O'Brien, Collins Hill, 15:48.33

2. Rob Manning, Collins Hill, 15:55.41

3. Niall Longobardi, Peachtree Ridge, 15:57.65

4. Colin Conroy, Mill Creek, 15:58.38

5. Robert Fensterer, Peachtree Ridge, 16:23.12

6. Gator Jackson, South Forsyth, 16:23.89

7. Josh Albey, North Gwinnett, 16:28.64

8. Austin Hunt, Collins Hill, 16:35.07

9. Yaqub Ismail, Mill Creek, 16:36.46

10. Andy Gonzalez, Collins Hill, 16:36.74

Girls

Team standings

1. Collins Hill, 21

2. North Gwinnett, 61

3. Peachtree Ridge, 96

4. Mill Creek, 103

5. South Forsyth, 149

6. Norcross, 167

7. North Forsyth, 185

8. Duluth, 194

9. Forsyth Central, 260

Top-10 individuals

1. Amanda Winslow, Collins Hill, 17:42.25

2. Nicky Akande, Collins Hill, 18:10.68

3. Nicole DiMercurio, North Gwinnett, 18:19.14

4. Allyson McGinty, Collins Hill, 18:23.71

5. Laura Serres, North Gwinnett, 18:24.08

6. Briana Crawford, Collins Hill, 19:04.95

7. Heather Morris, Peachtree Ridge, 19:11.65

8. Sydney Williams, Collins Hill, 19:15.79

9. Allie Schaich, South Forsyth, 19:27.51

10. Alicia Connolly, Mill Creek, 19:45.42