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Brookwood boys heavy favorite at county cross country meet

Brookwood's boys cross country team is the heavy favorite to win the Gwinnett County championship on Saturday. The only question seems to be the margin of victory.

The two-time defending state champions easily won their first meet of the season two weeks ago and appear on track to have a dominating season.

"We're not trying to dominate, we're just trying to win," Brookwood coach Ben Dehnke said. "There's a lot of capable and a good teams in the county."

The Broncos dominated at the Clara Bowl in Rome two weeks ago with a 93-point victory. Brookwood placed three runners in the top 15, including meet winner Morgan Malanoski.

"I think the team benefits from individual accomplishments," Dehnke said. "That's what we're focused on. I think we've got four guys with a shot at the top 10 (at county)."

The meet is once again a who's who of the state's top cross country teams. The boys race features nine teams ranked in the top 10 in three different classifications.

Brookwood has won the last three county titles and a fourth is expected on Saturday at River Green in Duluth. The real excitement will come in the battle for second place. Peachtree Ridge and Mill Creek will compete for the runner-up spot. The Lions feature defending indvidual state champion Josh Brickell and are coming off a win at the Carrollton Invitational last week. Brickell is the heavy favorite to win the individual title.

"(Brickell) makes them really good and they have a deep squad as well," Dehnke said.

The Hawks have a solid squad that took third at the Clara Bowl and fourth at Carrollton. Collins Hill and Norcross should also be in the mix in the top five.

"Our best county meet finish in school history is third, so to finish second would be something really exciting for us," Mill Creek coach Andy Christie said. "However, it will be close and could come down to a point or two. I'm happy about how we've raced so far and I just hope that we race well and that it is a stepping stone for where we want to be later."

Brookwood is also the favorite in the girls race, which has seven of top 10 teams in the state. North Gwinnett won last year's girls title, but the Bulldogs graduated nearly their entire starting lineup.

The No. 2 Broncos were second at the Clara Bowl two weeks ago behind No. 1 Harrison.

Three of the top four finishers from last year's county meet return. Norcross' Katherine Yost was runner-up and has emerged as the early favorite this year. Yost won the Carrollton Invitational last week, beating defending state champion Chloe Whitworth from Collins Hill.

Brookwood's Caroline Kissel, Peachtree Ridge's Lauren Kelly and Providence's Tayler Tuttle are also in the mix for the county title.