COVINGTON - For many students, the SATs and school break have temporarily put athletics on hold.
That is, unless you were among one of the 10 teams participating in the first Tiger Trail Classic on Saturday - particularly the Newton boys and Alcovy girls cross country squads.
Despite missing several runners due to testing and vacation, both the Rams (86 points) and Lady Tigers each finished third during the inaugural event at Alcovy High School.
"I think it was good for the kids," Alcovy coach Scott Murphy said. "We saw a lot of fast times today (and) some really good races for the girls, including several personal records. It's always nice when they come out, especially considering their holiday started two days ago."
The Ola boys took first place honors with 39 points, while Sequoyah finished second. In girls action, the script was flipped as Sequoyah placed first and Ola second.
"It's nice to have it so local," Newton coach Aaron Robinson said. "When you run these tough courses it makes your other courses seem a little more doable. We work real hard in practice so that helps when they come out to these races. It makes these races fun."
Other competing schools included Griffin, North Atlanta, Stockbridge, Shiloh, Salem and Douglass.
"It's unfortunate we missed a few runners today because of the SATs and the break," Salem coach Kurt Peters said, "but I was pleased and everyone ran really well. They enjoyed the course, and I think they had a good time."
For the boys, Newton's Tyler Ransom placed seventh with a mark of 18 minutes and 48 seconds.
"We were pleased with Tyler," Robinson said. "He's really moving along."
Shiloh's Donye Coleman finished first overall with a time of 20:58. Newton's Ameryst Armstead took third, while Alcovy's Tatlin Gammon ended eighth.
"I was pleased even though a couple of people didn't run quite what I expected," Murphy said. "But overall, the people who were here ran well."
The course, which is riddled with hills among the beautiful scenery behind Alcovy, certainly proved tougher than most, providing a challenge for the runners.
"We built it that way on purpose," Murphy said. "It's actually faster today than normal because the creek crossing was dry. We like it tough. It's cross country - we don't want to be running on golf course fairways. But overall, yes. I would consider today a success."
Jason Murdock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.