For eight years, Mike Beaudreau had to make decisions that would affect thousands of people in Gwinnett County.
Now he makes choices for about 25 high school cross country runners.
Beaudreau, the former District 3 county commissioner, is in his first season as the assistant cross country coach at Hebron Christian Academy.
“It’s awesome,” he said with a laugh. “It has its own pressures. It’s a good change of pace. You can put things on a micro level and not the macro level.”
Beaudreau served as county commissioner from 2004-12 where he helped extend Sugarloaf Parkway, was involved with the controversial trash program and the proposal to allow commercial flights at the local airport. When he didn’t win re-election in November, Beaudreau sought Hebron cross country coach Bob Gardner about possibly helping the Dacula private school.
“We just got to talking cross country and philosophy and we hit it off. He liked the direction of the program,” said Gardner, who is entering his second year as head coach. “He wanted to know if he could help out.
“I was interested in having him help. We kind of clicked on how to run the program. It’s been a good match.”
Beaudreau is no stranger to cross country. He was an assistant coach at Archer the first two years it opened. He was also involved with the Brookwood boys program as the team chaplain, which encouraged him to get back into running.
“He has a strong running background from running marathons and 10Ks,” Gardner said.
So are there any perks to having the former county commissioner on your coaching staff?
“No, nothing but his tremendous insight,” Gardner said with a laugh. “Just his tremendous background in running.”
Beaudreau’s running experience has helped at Hebron. The Lions had summer workouts for the first time this year and the extra miles are paying off early in the season.
The girls team has placed in the top three at two meets, while the boys team has held its own against larger schools.
“These young men and women are putting in the work,” Beaudreau said. “We’re building for the long term of the season.”
The Hebron girls have just 12 runners on the team and are mostly made up of underclass athletes. They have no seniors and just three juniors. Freshmen Samantha Heflin and Mikayla Burell have emerged as the team’s top runners.
The girls placed third out of 24 teams at the NEGA Cross Country Championships and were just five points out of second. They were second at the War Eagle Invitational.
“It was definitely a surprise to have this kind of success early on,” Gardner said.
The boys team features just one senior in Andrew Bagwell. Juniors Trent Johnson and Colson Hagan have been the team’s top runners this season.
The Lions placed 12th at the NEGA Cross Country Championships and sixth at the War Eagle Invitational, which featured mostly schools from larger classifications.
Both teams will get major tests in coming weeks with the Carrollton Invitational on Saturday and the Gwinnett County Championships next week.
The bigger goal is qualifying for the state meet. The boys and girls team qualified last year for the first time in the same season.
“We’re trying to make it a tradition to go to state every year, not every couple of years,” Gardner said. “We want to be like the some of the other powers in the area.”
Brookwood boys win Covered Bridge invite
The Brookwood boys won the Covered Bridge Invitational in Roswell by placing six runners in the top 12 to score 37 points. The Broncos were led by senior Jordan Hand (fifth place), junior Miles Yapp (sixth), seniors Tommy Templeman (seventh) and Josh d’Aquin (ninth), junior Chris O’Brien (10th) and senior Jonathan Hanagriff (12th).
The junior varsity team also won its division by scoring a meager 18 points.
The JV team was led by individual winner senior Trevor Thorburn, freshman Dylan Vitovic who finished second, freshman Jordan Bullock (fourth), senior Kenneth Nealy (fifth) and junior Sean Jarnagin (sixth).
Bears place top 15 at Double Dip
The Mountain View boys and girls cross country teams finished in the top 15 at the Double Dip at Marist. The girls took 14th place and were paced by Rebecca Winslow’s 13th-place finish with a time of 21 minutes, 13 seconds. Liz Dreggors also had a strong performance with a time of 22:44.
The boys team placed 11th and were led by Robert Bevins’ 27th-place finish and a time of 18:22. Drew Durden turned in a solid time of 19:33 for 79th place.
Buford’s Thompson takes third
Buford’s Josh Thompson finished third at the Mountain Eagle in Clarkesville on Saturday. Thompson posted a time of 17 minutes, 44 seconds, which is a minute faster than his best time in 2012.
Berkmar’s Feyisa posts top-25 finish
Berkmar’s Mickey Feyisa placed in the top 25 at the War Eagle Invitational on Sept. 3 at Chestatee High School. The senior posted a time of 20:06.54 to finish 25th overall.
Brookwood’s Hand, Wesleyan’s Reed named runners of the week
Brookwood’s Jordan Hand and Wesleyan’s Caroline Reed were selected as the runner of the week by the Gwinnett County cross country coaches on Wednesday.
Hand placed fifth at the Covered Bridge Run with a time of 16 minutes, 59 seconds.
Reed placed third at the Wesleyan Invitational with a time of 20:36.
They join Peachtree Ridge’s Kevin Mills and Addy Lippitt, Mill Creek’s Tyler Woodrome and Providence’s Tayler Tuttle as previous winners.