Peachtree Ridge’ Addy Lippitt leads a pack of runners during her runner-up finish at the Gwinnett County Cross Country Championships in September. (Photo: David McGregor)
Peachtree Ridge’s girls cross country program has set the bar high this season. Even after beating defending state champion Brookwood on a tie-breaker at the Coach Wood Invitational two weeks ago, the Lions weren’t happy.
“We didn’t have a good run at Coach Wood. We were kind of stale,” Peachtree Ridge coach Ron Clanton said. “Our girls were really upset with their performance at Coach Wood. They didn’t do anything bad. They are just a determined bunch.”
A strong-willed Peachtree Ridge team isn’t a good sign for the rest on Region 7-AAAAAA. The Lions are the two-time defending region champs and will go for a third title on Saturday at River Green Park in Duluth.
“Our girls are pretty deep and a senior laden team with a lot of experience,” Clanton said.
The Lions are led by senior Addy Lippitt, who is also a favorite to win the individual region title. She’ll have to fight off Mill Creek’s Lauren Hovis, who edged her at Coach Wood. Lippitt was runner-up at county and Hovis was third.
Mill Creek, which also features standout runner Hannah Lopez, and Collins Hill, which is led by Mariah Maring, are Peachtree Ridge’s biggest challenge for the crown.
“This is probably top to bottom the toughest region in the state. It’s always a battle,” Clanton said.
Mill Creek is the two-time defending region champs in the boys race. Peachtree Ridge beat the Hawks at Coach Wood to emerge as the favorite going into Saturday’s race.
“The boys have been a surprise this year. Losing an All-American like Josh Brickell is not easy to replace,” Clanton said. “They have been a pleasant surprise and are in the mix. They want to win.”
Brickell, now a freshman at Furman, was a three-time state champion in cross country. Senior Kevin Mills has emerged as the Lions’ leader this season. He’s one of two seniors on the team along with Evan Beck.
Mills was runner-up at region last year and won the county championship this season. He’s the frontrunner to win the region crown, but will have to hold off Mill Creek’s Tyler Woodrome, who was runner-up at county, and Collins Hill’s Daniel Ellis, who was fourth at county.
Woodrome and Ellis’ teams are also the biggest threat to Peachtree Ridge for the region title.
“Mill Creek has an outstanding program and Collins Hill has great coaches,” Clanton said. “Throughout the course of the season, they have proven to be the most consistent.”
The Region 8-AAAAAA race will also be held at River Green on Saturday, which means more than 1,300 runners will be in action.
Brookwood’s girls placed one through six at last year’s region meet to run away with their fifth-straight championship. The Broncos are the defending state champions and are led by Lauren Brennan and Laurel Sumner.
Brookwood’s boys are the two-time defending region champs and have won four of last five region titles. For the last decade, Brookwood and Parkview have been the top two teams in the region. The Broncos’ Josh Ingalls is coming off a top 10 finish at the Coach Wood Invitational and Tommy Templemann has also run strong in recent weeks. Shiloh’s Bryan Kamau is the defending region champ.
Berkmar’s Feyisa earns medal
Berkmar’s Mickey Feyisa earned medalist honors at the Last Chance Invitational on Saturday in Carrollton. The senior placed 17th with a time of 18 minutes, 0 seconds. It was the fourth top-20 finish for Feyisa this season.
Zimmerman, Collins get running honors
Wesleyan’s Jordan Zimmerman and Henry Collins were named runners of the week by the Gwinnett County cross country coaches on Wednesday.
Zimmerman finished third in the Class AAAAAA race at the Carrollton Last Chance Invitational on Saturday with a time of 19 minutes, 57 seconds.
Henry Collins placed 9th in the boys Class AAAAAA race at the Carrollton Last Chance Invitational with a time of 17:45.
What: Region 7-AAAAAA and Region 8-AAAAAA championship
Where: River Green Complex, Duluth
• 8:15 a.m. — Region 7-AAAAAA girls
• 8:45 a.m. — Region 7-AAAAAA boys
• 10:45 a.m. — Region 8-AAAAAA girls
• 11:15 a.m. — Region 8-AAAAAA boys