Lady Eagles earn trip to state meet

ATHENS - The Eastside girls cross country team is headed for the Class AAA state meet in Carrolton after finishing fourth in the Region 8-AAA meet on Thursday at Athens Academy.

However, the Eastside boys fell short of the their goal with a fifth-place finish, scoring 102 points, 13 points behind fourth-place Stephens County.

"It's exciting (for the girls), they worked hard for it. They ran well," Eastside coach Leah Carlisle said. "We were trying to get second, but we'll take fourth."

In the girls race, Eastside's Alle Haynie and Blakely Smith did their part by finishing 11th and 12th with times of 23 minutes, 38.23 seconds and 23:39.29.

Melissa Bender (19th, 24:19.34) and Chrissie McLemore (26th, 25:20.58). finished third and fourth for Eastside. Deanna Kaluta sealed Eastside's berth, finishing 34th overall with a new personal best of 26:15.92.

Joining Eastside at state are region champion Oconee County (30), Jackson County (59) and Stephens County (81). Eastside was fourth with 102.

Oconee County's Ann Centner won the top spot for the girls with a tme of 20:13.82 as three other Oconee County runners finished in the top six.

In the boys race, Sam Johnson and Ace Cook finished in the top 10 for the Eagles, placing seventh and ninth. As a team, Eastside had four runners set new personal bests.

Setting a new personal mark for the boys were Cook (18:12.69), Mikey Rue (19:43.02) and Jason Croom (19:50.20).

While Johnson and Cook finished first and second, Eastside's next three runners could not close the gap, allowing Stephens County and Franklin County to finish ahead in the team standings.

"It's a little disappointing. We ran here a couple weeks ago and Franklin and Stephens both jumped ahead of us. We knew we would have to beat one of them or both of them to go to state," Carlisle said. "They gave it their best shot. We had a couple of (personal records) and they ran really hard. That's all you could ask for."

Rue and Croom finished 26th and 29th overall, while Tim Guy completed the scoring for the Eagles in 34th at 20:07.03.

Representing Region 8-AAA at state for the boys are region champion Oconee County (30), runner-up Elbert County (76), Franklin County (85) and Stephens County (89).

Oconee County's Joel Padgett won the individual region championship with a time of 17:08.40.

Oconee County and Elbert County each had three runners finish in the top six.

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.