Mill Creek cross country coach Andy Christie liked what he saw out of his team two weeks ago. The Hawks won the Stage Races, a two-mile event, over the some of the state's top teams.
This Saturday, Christie will see how his team holds up on a traditional 5K course. Mill Creek is one of 10 Gwinnett County schools running in the Clara Bowl Invitational at Berry College in Rome.
"We're pretty excited to see what we can do on a 5K course, especially against good competition," Christie said.
Mill Creek took third at the event last year and the strong showing sparked a runner-up finish at the state meet.
"We want to be a considered a top program year in and year out," Christie said.
Some of the state's top teams will be there this weekend, including McIntosh, Marietta, St. Pius and Walton.
"We're looking forward to racing those teams," Christie said.
The race will be without defending state champion Brookwood and Region 7-AAAAAA rivals Norcross and Peachtree Ridge. Brookwood and Norcross are off this week, while Peachtree Ridge is competing in the Covered Bridge Run in Roswell.
"If we do well at this meet then it means we'll do well at the other meets when we'll see them," Christie said.
Mill Creek returns its top runner from last year in Eric Westog. The junior finished eighth at last year's state meet.
"He's a great learner and a total team guy," Christie said. "He's been a standout underclassman and now as an upperclassman I'm excited to see what he can do."
The Hawks feature a young lineup with Matt Tippins and Sven Hope as the only seniors in the top eight. Juniors Tyler Woodrome and Josh Arceneaux, sophomore Ethan LaCicero and freshmen Jonathan Westog and Sam Costa round out the lineup.
Mill Creek scored 10 points to tie St. Pius at the Stage Races on Aug. 25 and won the meet on a tie-breaker.
"We hope that was the beginning of what we are going to do this season," Christie said.
What: Clara Bowl Invitational
Where: Berry College, Rome
8 a.m. -- Open race
8:45 a.m. -- 1A-4A girls
9:30 a.m. -- 1A-4A boys
10:15 a.m. -- 5A-6A girls
11 a.m. -- 5A-6A boys