Salem meets goals but has room to grow

CONYERS - Any school competing in the same region with cross country front-runner Heritage, which enjoyed an unforgettable season this year, is going to have its fair share of ups and downs.

Salem was no exception. However, the Seminoles still met expectations - and then some - in the eyes of coach Kurt Peters.

"Yes, I'm satisfied with our teams' performance this season," Peters said. "We ran as hard as we could. I'm especially satisfied with the performances from (juniors) Shannon Christian, Lindsay Kaiser and Taylor Horton."

Christian, who finished first for the Lady Seminoles in virtually all of their races, placed 10th overall during the Region 8-AAAA meet with a time of 22 minutes, 25.81 seconds. She was fourth in the Tiger Trail Classic (22:26.05) and sixth in the NewRock Meet (24:44).

Kaiser enjoyed a solid season overall, placing 16th in the Tiger Trail Classic (25:45.53) and 23rd in the NewRock Meet (25:33.39). Her personal record was set Oct. 15, when she ran a 24:57.90 during the Reebok Coach Wood Invitational.

Horton was also a pleasant surprise to the Seminoles. He finished 24th overall in the Hound Harrier (20:37.05), 38th in the Tiger Trail Classic (20:37.72) and set a personal record of 18:59.57 in the Reebok Coach Wood Invitational.

Also making a big impact for the girls this season was senior Christi Cornett.

Of the senior boys, Bo Bateman will perhaps be missed the most.

"Bo was a captain and good leader," Peters said. "He's going to be difficult to replace."

Bateman enjoyed a respectable season, finishing 37th overall in the Hound Harrier (22:27.26), 43rd in the NewRock Meet (22:01) and 55th in the region meet (21:34.71). He set a personal best of 20:49.97 during the Reebok Coach Wood Invitational.

Other contributing seniors include Logan Gunzenhauser and Austin McCullers, who have been dedicated to cross country for several years now.

"(They) are excellent runners," Peters said. "These individuals will be missed."

Peters said perhaps the biggest surprises came from a trio of brand new runners - Matt Hill, Robert Williams and Roy Cooley.

"They worked hard all season and earned a varsity spot," Peters said.

As far as those pesky Patriots are concerned, for Salem to be a contender next season, it will have to abide to several tasks.

"I would like to see our runners improve their overall endurance over the offseason," Peters said. "To do this, they will have to commit to a running schedule and attend summer workouts.

"Our biggest goal will be for both teams to improve on our region finish."

Jason Murdock can be reached at jason.murdock@rockdalecitizen.com.