Wesleyan coach Chad McDaniel hugs Bradley Gossett after the team won the Class A cross country state championship in Carrollton on Saturday.
CARROLLTON -- As much of an individual sport as cross country is in many respects, Wesleyan's boys team results at the Class A state meet were truly a collective effort.
Despite placing just one individual in the top 10, all five of the team's scoring runners finished between places nine and 21.
That depth earned the Wolves their fifth championship in the past six years with 71 points, outdistancing runner-up Athens Christian's total of 88 Saturday at Carrollton High School.
"Depth matters in every sport," Wesleyan boys coach Chad McDaniel said. "I'm thankful our kids have bought into that. Everybody's not going to be the No. 1 guy. I don't care what places our guys come in individually, as long as it says Wesleyan on the jersey."
Bradley Gossett was the first runner with a Wesleyan jersey to finish, becoming the only Wolves individual in the top 10 by taking ninth place in a time of 16:48.41.
From there, Wolves started crossing the finish line in rapid-fire succession, with Drew Sutton (13th), Doug Mohme (17th), Timothy Marsh (20th) and Takim Williams (21st) all mooing the next 12 runners.
"You chart times all season," McDaniel said. "You look and you see, 'Can we get our seventh guy ahead of their fourth?' Or, 'Can we get our seventh guy ahead of their fifth?' That's what you train for. ... You put it all in there, and in about 17 and a half minutes, you see if it works."
Wesleyan's girls team, as well as Region 5-A rival Providence, also had depth bunch tightly together, though they didn't fare quite as well as the Wesleyan boys, with Darlington taking the girls title.
Still, there's little complaining from the Wolves, who finished fourth with 147 points, or the Stars, who were close behind in sixth place with 188 points.
One of the Wesleyan girls may have tripped shortly after the opening gun, forcing a restart in the race.
But the Wolves hardly fell on their faces, with Erika Ramsey (13th, 20:42) and Caroline Reed (20th, 20:59) each placing in the top 20.
"I couldn't be more proud, honestly," Wesleyan girls coach Amanda Walker said.
"They gave it all they had. That's all you can ask as a coach."
Providence likewise gave it all they had Saturday, with Ellie Thomas (23rd, 21:04) and Evangeline Crist (25th, 21:08) finishing just two places apart to pace the Stars.
And with the team made up almost entirely of freshmen, Saturday's sixth-place team finish makes for a promising future for Providence.
"We just wanted them to get the experience," Stars coach Charlene Preg said. "We just wanted to go out and see what happened. We got a good taste of state. It went very well."