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North girls, Peachtree Ridge boys claim region titles

Collins Hill's Chloe Whitworth edges out Norcross' Katherine Yost in Saturday's Region 7-AAAAA championship with a time of 18:47:37.

Collins Hill's Chloe Whitworth edges out Norcross' Katherine Yost in Saturday's Region 7-AAAAA championship with a time of 18:47:37.

DULUTH — It wasn’t precisely as North Gwinnett girls coach Mark Karen wanted it, but he’ll take it. Peachtree Ridge boys coach Ron Clanton won’t argue with the result either.

On a chilly Saturday morning at the River Green complex, both coaches’ teams won Region 7-AAAAA championships, their final test before Saturday’s state championships in Carrollton.

“I wish our first five (runners) weren’t spread out quite so far, but you can’t complain when your top seven are in the top 15, especially in a meet like this,” Karen said. “It was good to take care of business.”

North’s defending Class AAAAA champion girls repeated as region titlists on the strength of Jordan Humphrey’s third-place 19:03, Laura Serres’ sixth-place 19:29 and Victoria Howell’s seventh-place 19:35. Courtney Ragan was 11th (19:55) and Katie Vanover 12th (19:58).

Peachtree Ridge’s boys had won Class AAAAA in 2008, but finally now own a region title, to Clanton’s delight.

“It’s been one of our goals all season,” Clanton said. “We weren’t sure how we’d match up head to head, though.”

Collins Hill’s Chloe Whitworth emerged on the girls individual champion by outdistancing the 48-runner field in 18:47, just a second ahead of Norcross’ Katherine Yost. Peachtree Ridge’s Josh Brickell handily won the race of 50 boys in 15:44, 17 seconds ahead of Mill Creek’s Austin Boetje.

“I just started kicking at the end and barely pulled away (from Yost),” Whitworth said. “It was tough because it was so cold, but the biggest thing was to stay positive.”

Brickell seemed somewhat bewildered by winning, as well as pacing teammates Matthew Cornwall, Matt Weickert, Kevin Mills and Ben Jaques into third, fifth, seventh and eighth in 16:28, 16:37, 16:47 and 16:49, respectively.

The performance was remarkable for Brickell, considering he was sidelined by pneumonia earlier this season.

“I ran pretty much the race I wanted,” Brickell said. “I set my own pace and was where I wanted to be.”

For Yost, it was another narrow second-place finish on only a slightly modified course at River Green. The first-year runner was second by five seconds to Collins Hill’s Vicky Winslow at county.