Gwinnett's long-running success in high school cross country has trickled into the college level in recent years, and it will be evident again in today's NCAA Cross Championships at Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky.
Both of the current No. 1 teams in the national polls --the Oklahoma State men and the Florida State women --have local runners as they pursue national championships.
Berkmar grad Girma Mecheso, coming off a runner-up finish at the NCAA Midwest Region Championships, is on an Oklahoma State team that also includes Grayson's Kirubel Erassa. Mecheso, a senior, had a time of 30 minutes, 26.39 seconds in the 10K regional race. Erassa, a sophomore, didn't run at the regional meet, but is on the roster of potential Cowboy runners for the NCAA meet.
The top-ranked Florida State women's team, which won the South Region title, is co-captained by Collins Hill's Amanda Winslow. Winslow was one of the top Seminoles in the region qualifier with a third-place finish, finishing the 6K race in 20:13.90.
Another Collins Hill runner, Nicky Akande of Villanova, also ranks among the top athletes at NCAAs. The junior won the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Region with a time of 20:14, earning the Mid-Atlantic Region's athlete of the year honor. Villanova got an at-large bid to NCAAs.
Georgia will take both its men's and women's cross country teams to NCAAs, too. The Bulldogs were second in the NCAA South Region in the men's division and placed third in the women's meet to earn an at-large bid.
UGA had two Parkview grads, Brett Richardson and Brian Detweiler, in the top 10 at regionals. Richardson was eighth in 30:44 and Detweiler was 10th in 30:46.
North Gwinnett grad Nicole DiMercurio was one of the UGA women's top runners with a 36th-place finish in 21:03.
Locals shine in South Atlantic Conference
Lenoir-Rhyne teammates Kaleb Myrick and Tanner Botts earned first-team All-South Atlantic Conference honors this week. Myrick also shared the award as the league's top blocker.
Myrick, a senior offensive lineman and a South Gwinnett grad, is part of an offensive line that also features Collins Hill grad Jimmy Bayer as a starter. They have helped their team roll up a NCAA Division II best 384.7 rushing yards per game this season.
Peachtree Ridge grad Tanner Botts was a first-team selection at linebacker. Botts has 79 tackles, 9.5 for losses, four sacks and two interceptions this season.
Parkview grad Joe Anderson, a defensive back, has 58 tackles, two interceptions (one for a TD), nine pass breakups and 11 passes defended for Lenoir-Rhyne this season. Peachtree Ridge grad Tyler Botts has 10 tackles and a sack as a reserve.
Lenoir-Rhyne hosts Fort Valley State this weekend in the first round of the D-II playoffs.
James named all-conference
LaGrange College's Matt James, a Collins Hill grad, was named to the All-USA South Conference first team this week.
James, a junior, has started at right tackle for the past two seasons.
Locals get JUCO honors
A pair of Gwinnett grads, Lavon Hooks and Xavier Walker, earned All-Region 23 honors from the National Junior College Athletic Association.
Walker, a Duluth grad, made 51 tackles and three interceptions in nine games as a defensive back at Itawamba Community College (Miss.).
Hooks, a Meadowcreek grad, is a defensive lineman at Northeast Mississippi Community College. He had 51 tackles, 9.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in eight games this season. His college favorites include Miami, Nebraska, Arizona State and Ole Miss.
Thomas earns academic award
Valdosta State center and North Gwinnett grad Jake Thomas was named to the Capital One Academic All-District football team this week.
Thomas, who has started all 10 games this season with a 95.7 percent grade and 35 knockdown blocks, maintains a 3.86 GPA in business management. It's his second straight season on the team.
Adams off to a blazing start at UCLA
Former Central Gwinnett standout Jordan Adams, who finished his high school career at Oak Hill Academy (Va.), has made a huge impact in his early college games at UCLA.
The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder had a game-high 21 points on 7 of 12 shooting and seven rebounds off the bench in an 86-59 win over Indiana State. He played just 22 minutes, but made the most of them in his first college game.
He followed that up with 26 points Tuesday vs. UC-Irvine and then scored 25 Thursday night in a victory over James Madison.
Adams averages a team-best 24 points and also averages 3.7 rebounds. His shooting has been superb --19 of 34 field goals (55.9 percent), 6 of 15 3-pointers (40.0) and 28 of 29 free throws (96.6).
Brookwood grad Nate Hamilton, a senior guard at Georgia College and State University, scored a career-high 28 points in a season-opening win over Palm Beach Atlantic. He hit 10 of 19 shots, including 8 of 17 from 3-point range. ... Greater Atlanta Christian grad Trent Wiedeman had 17 points and six rebounds last Friday in College of Charleston's 75-58 win over Towson in the season opener. He made 8 of 13 shots. ... Vanderbilt's Tiffany Clarke, a Norcross grad, scored 14 of her 24 points in the second half in a 82-71 win over McNeese State. She made 9 of 12 shots and grabbed eight rebounds. ... Kennesaw State's Bria Young, a Collins Hill grad, scored a career-high 15 points on five 3-pointers, but the Owls lost their WNIT opener last week to Middle Tennessee. ... Buford grad Blanche Alverson scored 17 in Thursday in an 80-43 win over Alabama State.
Gouge, Florida Southern off to strong start
Florida Southern's women's swimming team is ranked fifth nationally in the latest NCAA Division II rankings.
Brookwood grad Kelsey Gouge has six individual wins (in four different races) already in the young season, with two wins each in the 100-yard breaststroke and the 100 freestyle. Gouge was named the Sunshine State Conference women's swimmer of the week Nov. 5 after earning two victories in a meet with Florida State and Emory.
FSC senior Stephanie Doran, a Mill Creek grad, won two races in a season-opening meet with Tampa.
Florida Southern's men's team is ranked first nationally with a roster that features Peachtree Ridge's Brad Faxon, Duluth's Paul Leddon, Collins Hill's Bruce Janzen and Brookwood's Thomas Nguyen, Dustin Nguyen, Robbie Swan and Stephen Swan.
Groth gets academic honor
North Gwinnett grad Abby Groth, a sophomore at Utah, was named to the Pac-12 All-Academic team for women's soccer this week. She has a 3.04 GPA.
Hunt wins Patriot Open
Dacula grad Zeke Hunt, a junior at Cumberland, won the 174-pound title at last weekend's Patriot Open. It was his second straight appearance in the finals of a tourney.
Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.