New region, new hope for Tiger runners

COVINGTON - The Alcovy cross country squads are hoping that their third season will be one to remember this fall.

Last season, the Alcovy boys finished ninth at the Region 8-AAAA championships. The Alcovy girls placed 11th in last year's region meet.

However, this season finds the squads in a new region - Region 4-AAAA - along with Dutchtown, Forest Park, Griffin, Jonesboro, Mt. Zion-Jonesboro, North Clayton, Ola and Stockbridge.

Of the eight state berths from 4-AAAA last season, six went to schools who have either moved up in classification or moved to another region. The state-qualifying teams back in the region are the Stockbridge boys and girls, who placed 21st and 23rd in Class AAAA last season.

"We very excited to see what this season will be like," Alcovy assistant coach Cari Tester said. "It is the third year for Alcovy cross country, and we hope to be a competitive force on every course we run."

The top runners back for the Alcovy girls are Tatlin Gammon, Briana Pace, Rochelle McNally, Regan Bowers and Brittany Woodruff. Returning on the boys side are Joshua Holcombe, Jay DeRojas, Dakota Papke and DJ Hawkins.

The Alcovy boys lost two key runners off last year's squad - Colten Papke and Jeremy Woodruff.

"Our strengths are we work as a team, we're positive, we have a great attitude and we have great leadership qualities," Tester said. "We are going to work hard and give everything we have. We have a wonderful group of student-athletes this year."

Coach Scott Murphy's squads will open their season today at the Jaguar Invitational at Spalding High School in Griffin. They will make their 2008 home debut Thursday against Eastside.

Alcovy will also host the Tiger Trail Classic on Oct. 4, the Alcovy Last Chance Invitational on Oct. 25 and the Region 4-AAAA championships on Nov. 1.

Jeff Gillespie can be reached at jeff.gillespie@rockdalecitizen.com.

SideBar: At a glance

Team: Alcovy cross country

Coach: Scott Murphy (third season)

Last year: Boys finished ninth in Region 8-AAAA, girls finished 11th in 8-AAAA

Key returning runners: Regan Bowers, Jay DeRojas, Tatlin Gammon, DJ Hawkins, Joshua Holcombe, Rochelle McNally, Briana Pace, Dakota Papke, Brittany Woodruff

First meet: Today in the Jaguar Invitational at Griffin