Members of Wesleyan’s cross country team, center, take the course during the start of the girls AA State Cross Country Championship Saturday in Carrollton. (Photo: Karl L. Moore)
CARROLLTON — For a few hours, at least, Wesleyan’s girls cross country team was celebrating a repeat of the Class AA championship Saturday afternoon.
As it stood following the race and even after the trophies and medals had been given to the athletes and coaches, Wesleyan was declared the winner of the 2013 championship with 43 points while Westminster was second with 45.
But then Wesleyan director of athletics Marc Khedouri got a phone call from head coach Chad McDaniel, indicating that Westminster had filed a protest with the Georgia High School Association over the finish.
Apparently, the controversy stems over the order of finish for ninth and 10th places, where Kylie Reed of Wesleyan was ninth with a time of 20:36.03 and Westminster’s Gabby Bunnell was 10th at 20:36.10.
According to Khedouri, a photo finish of the race was discussed later Saturday afternoon and has been reviewed to determine if Bunnell actually crossed ahead of Reed, even though the timing system indicates a .07 second difference.
With a two-point difference in the scoring between the two teams (43-45), a change in the order of finish would take one point from Wesleyan and give a point to Westminster — creating a 44-44 tie.
Based on the tie-breaker, Westminster’s sixth-place runner (Elyse Ensor) came in 17th place while Wesleyan’s sixth-place runner (Mary Cowart) was 21st.
Each runner wears a computer chip on his or her shoe and it triggers the timing system as the athlete crosses the finish line. But a photo of the finish has been looked at and will continue to be examined further.
Khedouri said he and McDaniel, along with the director of athletics and head cross country coach from Westminster, will join representatives from the GHSA on a conference call at 9:30 on Monday morning to discuss the situation and see if there will be a reversal of the scoring.
Despite the controversy, Caroline Reed placed third (19:55), Jordan Zimmerman fourth (20:00), Ellie Bradach eighth (20:32) and Nikki Villa 19th (21:33) for the Wolves.
Union County sophomore Emma Garrison easily won the individual crown with a time of 19:10.
Meanwhile, Greater Atlanta Christian came in 15th place in the same race with 468 points as Caitlin Galvin led the way for the Spartans with a 30th-place finish and a time of 22:28.
On the boys’ side, Westminster got a first-place finish from Jordan Flowers and put three more runners in the top 10 to accumulate 34 points and win the Class AA title.
Wesleyan came in second with 57 points and the Wolves were paced by Henry Collins in fifth (17:44), Matt Moratti in seventh (17:48), Benji Johnson in 11th (18:00), Mikey Olson in 12th (18:09) and William Lee in 26th (18:27).
Greater Atlanta Christian placed 15th with Miller Kettle (18:26) in 25th leading the way for the Spartans.
Tuttle runner-up in Class A
Providence Christian got a second-place finish from Tayler Tuttle (18:51) as the Storm placed second in the Class A private school girls’ championship with 116 points, 17 points behind Pace Academy. Emily Swanigan of Providence also got a top-10 finish, coming in sixth with a time of 19:57. Hebron Christian came in fifth with 162 points, paced by Miranda Taylor’s 20th-place finish (21:40).
Hebron boys get top-10 finish
Hebron’s boys came in ninth-place in the Class A private school boys’ championship as the Lions scored 190 points with Trent Johnson coming in 12th (17:46) while Colson Hagan was 18th (18:02).
Johnson, Roberts lead Wolves’ effort
Buford’s boys claimed an eighth-place finish in the Class AAA championship as Josh Thompson led the way with a 17th-place finish in a time of 17:23. Justin Pirkle (18:08), Avery Webster (18:19), Alex Sanchez (18:40) and Adam Page (18:48) completed the scoring for the Wolves.
Meanwhile, Buford’s girls came in sixth place in the Class AAA championship as Bailey Roberts was 19th with a clocking of 21:12.
Erin Marsh (21:19), Megan Ward (21:19), Hannah Davis (22:32) and Ansley McGiboney (22:49) rounded out the scoring for Buford.
Lanier girls 25th in Class AAAA
In the Class AAAA girls’ championship, Lanier picked up a 25th-place finish with Molly Kunkle (23:52), Nicole Townley (24:21), Morgan Henderson (25:04), Kelsey Naddra (25:28) and Brittney Mosely (25:48) completing the scoring for the Longhorns.