SUWANEE - In a school of more than 3,000 students, it's kind of hard to fit in. Especially when you're the new kid in town.
But Collins Hill is known for its individual and team state championships, most notably in girls sports. Which is why Amanda Winslow adjusted just fine at the Suwanee school.
Winslow kept her new school's championship running tradition alive this season, winning the Class AAAAA girls state championship in her first cross country season as an Eagle. The Daily Post's Runner of the Year also captured county and region titles this season.
"I knew it would be a lot of work," Winslow said. "I had goals to do that, but I wasn't sure how easy it would be. I'm happy with what I did."
Winslow moved from Ohio to Collins Hill in January and competed on the Eagles' state championship track and field team. However, cross country has always been her favorite sport and the junior shined this fall.
"We were a little wary getting started and over the summer," Collins Hill coach Andrew Hudson said. "She had some pain from a stress fracture so we were very patient building her up over the summer. We thought if she could stay healthy enough to train she could have a tremendous season.
"Just seeing her run in the 17s (cross country times in the 17-minute range) a couple of times and win county, region and state, that's everything we expected."
Of the seven races Winslow ran in this season, she won four and placed second in two others. The junior finished ninth at the Great American Cross Country Festival in Hoover, Ala., which featured some of the top runners in the Southeast.
In addition to winning county, region and state, Winslow also won the Mill Run. She placed second at the Carrollton Invitational to Holy Innocents' Haley Kale and at the Coach Wood Invitational to Chamblee's Emily Reese.
"She was up against two of the best runners in the nation," Hudson said. "The girl that beat her at Carrollton was second in the whole Southeast region last week and she'll probably go on to be an All-American. Emily Reese the same thing, she's one of the best runners out there.
"Amanda didn't lose to any slouches this year. Every girl she lost to is pretty much going to be an All-American."
Those races let Winslow know she has plenty to work on. This time next year, she could be one of those top runners in the Southeast.
"That's our goal. I'd like to see her run more races in the 17s and get down to breaking 18 on a course like Carrollton," Hudson said. "If you're not working to get better, you're getting worse."
Winslow was a two-time region champion in Ohio before moving to Georgia. She placed 10th in the Division II state meet as a freshman with a time of 19 minutes, 22 seconds and was sixth last year with a mark of 18:53.
In Collins Hill's running program she has flourished. She won county with a time of 18:17, set a new personal record at region with a mark of 17:42 and won state with a time of 18:25.
It's the fourth straight year that Collins Hill has had a girl win the state championship after Jackie Drouin won it the previous three years.
Winslow's state title, along with Nicky Akande's second-place finish and Allyson McGinty's fourth-place finish, led the Eagles to a fifth consecutive state championship.
So which title was more gratifying for Winslow?
"Both of them were exciting," Winslow said. "It was probably more exciting with the team one. Because I've never been on a team before that was close to this kind of team in terms of talent. It wasn't just one person's hard work paying off, it was everyone's."
SideBar: ALL-COUNTY CROSS COUNTRY
Girls runner of the year: Amanda Winslow, Collins Hill, Jr.
County, Region 7-AAAAA, Class AAAAA champion
Girls coach of the year: Andrew Hudson, Collins Hill
Led team to fifth-straight Class AAAAA state title
Girls first team
' Nicky Akande, Collins Hill, Soph.
Second in AAAAA, second in 7-AAAAA, third at county
' Briana Crawford, Collins Hill, Jr.
Ninth in AAAAA, sixth in 7-AAAAA, eighth at county
' Nicole Dimercurio, North Gwinnett, Jr.
Fifth in AAAAA, third in 7-AAAAA, fifth at county
' Lindsey Ebert, Parkview, Sr.
Eighth in AAAAA, first in 8-AAAAA, second at county
' Allyson McGinty, Collins Hill, Jr.
Fourth in AAAAA, fifth in 7-AAAAA, fourth at county
' Laura Serres, North Gwinnett, Fr.
Third in AAAAA, fourth in 7-AAAAA, seventh at county
' Caroline Ward, Parkview, Sr.
11th in AAAAA, third at 8-AAAAA, sixth at county
Girls second team
' Sara Curry, Peachtree Ridge, Jr.
' Carly Egan, Brookwood, Soph.
' Lauren Kester, GAC, Fr.
' Heather Morris, Peachtree Ridge, Soph.
' Chelsea Peele, North Gwinnett, Fr.
' Shea Spicher, Parkview, Soph.
' Sydney Williams, Collins Hill, Fr.