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Lanier teams qualify for cross county state meet

FLOWERY BRANCH -- Lanier's boys and and girls cross country teams qualified for the Class AAAA state meet on Wednesday.

The girls placed second in the Region 8-AAAA championship, while the boys were fourth. The top four teams advance to the state meet in Carrollton next Saturday.

The girls put five runners in the top 20 to score 71 points and finish runner-up to Chestatee's 25 points. Azaria Irvin led the Longhorns with a ninth-place finish and a time of 24 minutes, 20 seconds.

Marly Alcide (24:43) was 11th, Molly Kunkle (25:08) was 14th, Nicole Townley (25:25) was 17th and Rachel Mathews (25:36) was 20th.

"Our girls have worked so hard this season, and qualifying for state really represents a milestone in our young team's development," Lanier girls coach Naomi Kirchner said. "This was truly a team effort, and I'm so proud of all our athletes."

The Lanier boys placed fourth with 95 points and was behind region champ Chestatee (38), Johnson (72) and Stephens County (79).

Ervin Martinez led the Longhorns by winning the individual region title. Martinez posted a time of 19:06.

"I knew we were going to attack the course, but I did not anticipate Ervin coming out as strong as he did," Lanier boys coach Oji Perkins said. "At the halfway mark, he was in second and just took off from there. During the last mile, I yelled my last instructions to him and that was that. He just took off and pulled away from the pack and won by a good margin. I'm so proud of him because four years ago, he was a 400-meter runner on my track team at North Gwinnett. Now he is a region cross country champion. This kid works so hard and I'm so proud of him and the team."

Christian Thai (20:18) was 16th, Collin Rusch (20:20) was 17th, Christopher Tromp (20:36) was 23rd and Bryan Borne (21:44) was 38th.