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Winslow's move to Georgia changed her life

When Amanda Winslow was growing up, she set goals to one day be one of the top high school runners in Ohio. She figured she would go to college in Ohio and maybe even raise a family in the Buckeye State.

Then her sophomore year, everything changed.

Her family moved to Georgia, Winslow joined one of the premier cross country programs in the state and her goals were never the same.

"I think I realized it was for the better pretty quickly when I got here," said the Collins Hill senior. "At first it was a shock and it was hard to get used to, but it's opened up so many other opportunities."

With her new life in Georgia, Winslow has transformed from a good runner to one of the best in the nation.

The Daily Post's Runner of the Year won her second Class AAAAA state championship this year with a time of 18 minutes and led Collins Hill to a sixth straight team state title. The Eagles are ranked No. 2 in the nation and Winslow is No. 15.

That's a pretty impressive turnaround for someone who just hoped to finish in the top 10 each year at the state meet four years ago.

"I was just hoping each year to move up," Winslow said. "I was 10th at state my freshman year and I was just like every year if I get better, even if I don't win state, if I keep improving I'll be happy to be in the top 10. That was my goal then and things are completely different."

Her family's move to Georgia has opened many doors for Winslow. When she joined the Collins Hill program it allowed her to train with some of the top runners in the state every day. That translated into better times and placement, which usually meant winning a lot of races. Now a girl who had dreams of going to college in Ohio has several major colleges around the nation going after her.

"I think moving here really made things speed up, probably just having a better situation with the team and the coaching staff and everything really helped getting me going," she said.

In the seven races Winslow competed in this season, she won five. She took second at the McDonald's X-Country Festival and fifth at the Great American XC Festival, both out-of-state meets that feature some of the top runners in the South.

"I'm just impressed with the consistency of her season," Collins Hill coach Andrew Hudson said. "She didn't have a really bad race and was never close to a bad race. She's just such a competitor. She's completely focused and she knows how to control a race, to run a race, how to measure out her effort over the course of a race.

"She's really unlike any runner I've had, except her sister (Vicky) and she's the same way. They just don't seem to have bad workouts or bad races."

When you consider all of the great runners and teams Collins Hill has had over the last 10 years, it's pretty impressive Winslow has emerged the best out of them all.

Winslow set a new school record of 17 minutes, 30 seconds this year, breaking three-time state champion Jackie Drouin's record.

In just two years of cross country in Georgia, Winslow is being mentioned with some the state's greats like Marist's Kyla Barbour and Chamblee's Emily Reese.

"I never expected that. I just go out there and work hard and train and race hard," Winslow said. "I'm just running for myself to satisfy my goal. When something like that comes along with it and you're told you're one of the best in the state or in the state's history, it's kind of weird. It's neat what people are saying."

It's a comparison that never would have happened had a job change for Winslow's father not required the family to move nearly two years ago.

"I think I have a lot to be thankful for being here," Winslow said. "I really appreciate the team and coaches that helped me get here. And definitely my parents for helping me get here."

SideBar: Girls All-County team

Runner of the Year: Amanda Winslow, Collins Hill

County, Region 7-AAAAA, Class AAAAA state champion

Coach of the year: Andrew Hudson, Collins Hill

Led team to sixth-straight Class AAAAA state title

First team

· Nicky Akande, Collins Hill, Jr.

Placed sixth in AAAAA, second Region 7-AAAAA and county

· Vicky Winslow, Collins Hill, Jr.

Third in AAAAA, Region 7-AAAAA and county

· Allyson McGinty, Collins Hill, Sr.

Fifth in AAAAA, sixth Region 7-AAAAA, fourth at county

· Lauren Kester, GAC, Soph.

Region 6-AA champ, fifth at county

· Chloe Whitworth, Collins Hill, Fr.

Ninth in AAAAA, 12th in Region 7-AAAAA, sixth at county

· Nicole DiMercurio, North Gwinnett, Sr.

Fourth in AAAAA, ninth in Region 7-AAAAA, eighth at county

· Laura Serres, North Gwinnett, Soph.

16th in AAAAA, 13th at Region 7-AAAAA, seventh at county

Second team

· Sara Curry, Peachtree Ridge, Sr.

· Sydney Williams, Collins Hill, Soph.

· Erika Ramsey, Wesleyan, Soph.

· Carly Egan, Brookwood, Jr.

· Julianne Kurke, Parkview, Fr.

· Heather Morris, Peachtree Ridge, Jr.

· Briana Crawford, Collins Hill, Sr.