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Worthy wins 2nd title at Rock Ranch
Heritage boys place second, girls finish fourth overall

THE ROCK - Heritage's Aaron Worthy is now a perfect two-for-two in cross country races this year.

Worthy, a senior, claimed the individual title at The Rock Ranch Invitational on Saturday, posting a time of 16 minutes, 50.98 seconds.

"Aaron just ran another great race and posted one of our best times ever," Heritage coach Brian Smith said. "He knocked almost a minute off his time from the Jaguar Invitational. The course is more downhill and a little faster. It's a loop, so I only got to see him a couple times, but he looked great out there.

"He's really looking like a threat to be a individual contender at state in Class AAAA. I don't know a lot yet about the other runners out there, but I think he's going to be right in the mix."

Worthy edged Cross Keys' Leonel Ayala (16:56.16) and Perry's Jesse Yeomans (16:58.01).

Two weeks ago, Worthy opened the season with an individual victory in the Jaguar Invitational in Griffin with a time of 17:44.

As a team, the Heritage boys finished second overall behind nationally ranked Auburn, Ala., which tallied 65 points to finish 27 ahead of the Patriots.

Brandon Harrison added a sixth-place finish for Heritage with a time of 17:30.30. The rest of the Patriots' top five included Andrew Connors (14th, 17:49.13), Mike Dontfraid (25th, 18:22.10) and Zach Whitten (50th, 19:03.69).

"I was pleased to see the boys improve their times from the first meet to the second meet," Smith said. "It's a good to see that kind of improvement. It says a lot about our training habits and our work ethic."

In the girls race, Heritage placed fourth overall - 20 points in front of Eastside in fifth. Auburn also claimed the girls race with 35 points, followed by Landmark Christian at 62 and Ola at 124.

Heritage sophomore Simone Worthy was the top local finisher, placing 11th overall with a time of 21:41.03.

"Simone ran a very good race. I was really pleased with her effort today," Smith said. "In her first race of the season, she just kind of maintained her spot. In this race, she really kept pushing the her pace and shaved almost two minutes off her first time of the season."

Alexia Grimes (26th, 23:52.17), Shea Smith (29th, 23:59.83), Maggie Barhite (43rd, 25:12.77) and Alyssa Clingenpeel (44th, 25:15.55) rounded out the Heritage top five.

The Lady Patriots ran without three runners, including No. 2 runner Lena Killingsworth, due to a conflict with the Atlanta Cup soccer tournament.

"If we would have had Lena, our team score would have been better," Smith said. "We might have been able to catch Ola for third. However, I was pleased with all the girls. They all picked up at least a minute to a minute and a half off their first times of the season."

Naomi Denby recorded the Eastside girls' best finish in 25th at 23:44.99. She was followed by Blakely Smith (33rd, 24:07.58), Alle Haynie (34th, 24:08.13), Mariah Parker (38th, 24:36.06) and Deanna Kaluta (52nd, 26:14.26).

"It was good to get a chance to scout Eastside," Smith said. "We know they're going to be tough coming up in a couple Mondays at the NewRock Invitational."

The Eastside boys finished 10th in their race with 270 points. Kyle Yeomans (40th, 18:49.53) and Michael Hammock (41st, 18:49.56) were the Eagles' top two finishers.