COVINGTON - Last year, the Newton cross country teams made school history by qualifying for the state meet for the third year in a row. This year, they are looking to continue that success.
In order to get to the state meet, the Rams will have to get through the Region 2-AAAAA meet coming up Saturday at Newton High School. The girls race begins at 9 a.m. and the boys will start at 9:45. The top four teams advance to the state meet, coming up Nov. 10 in Carrollton.
"Our boys have an excellent chance at making state, and our girls should be able to secure a spot by placing fourth. Nothing is a given though," Newton coach Aaron Robinson said.
Robinson expects both his teams to do well, but he has especially high expectations for the boys team.
"On paper, the boys should finish third as a team," Robinson said. "Anything better than that will be due to the guys really stepping it up and really wanting it throughout the entirety of the race, but as it stands right now, our best up to the point equates to third as a team from what I've seen."
It will be more difficult in the girls race, but Robinson said the Lady Rams could snag the fourth spot and secure a trip to the state meet.
"The girls may have a chance to slide into fourth place as a team," Robinson said. "They are dealing with some very tough competition in Union Grove, Luella and Redan. The rest of the teams are a bit of a mystery."
Travis Knight and Ameryst Armstead have been Newton's most consistent runners this season, and Robinson expects both to do well Saturday.
"I have been very pleased with these two athletes," Robinson said. "They are dedicated to the sport and are true competitors come race time. Travis, being a senior, seems to be just coming into his own with running this year and I look forward to seeing what kind of results he gets out of himself as he continues. Ameryst is a heck of a competitor. She is an incredible talent with unlimited potential. We keep finding out just how good she is every time she races."
In addition to Knight and Armstead, senior Megan Heineman should have a good race Saturday.
"Enough cannot be said about the way Megan Heineman, a senior, has stepped up her performance this season," Robinson said. "In part because of Ameryst, Megan has really begun to look more comfortable as a front of the pack runner. I expect her to have a big region race and finish in the top six of a quality girls race."
Robinson expects the competition to be tough in both races. Luella should be the frontrunner, especially in the boys race.
"Luella is the favorite to win the boys competition," Robinson said. "They have a tight pack of guys and will be at their best come region. I don't look for them to give an inch of ground to us. If we beat them, it will be because all five of our guys really get after it on Saturday, holding nothing back."
SideBar: If You Go
What: Region 2-AAAAA Cross Country Championship
Where: Newton High School
When: Saturday with girls race starting at 9 a.m. and boys race starting at 9:45