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A familiar story: Lady Pats take 12th straight NewRock title

Editor's Note: Due to incomplete results, the story on the boys race will appear in Wednesday's edition of the Citizen.

CONYERS - Heritage sophomore Simone Worthy had finished eighth and 11th in her first two cross country races of the season.

On Monday at Rockdale County High School, Worthy set her own pace.

Paced by Worthy's winning time of 22 minutes, 32 seconds, the Lady Patriots unofficially finished a point ahead of Eastside to win the NewRock Meet for the 12th consecutive season.

Teammate Lena Killingsworth was the runner-up at 23:48.

"She's had a great start to her year," Heritage coach Brian Smith said of Worthy, who won the NewRock for the second straight year. "Her big thing was trying to stay on course in a very unfamiliar course. Lena did a good job; she held off a charging girl, showed some stamina. That's a tribute to her training."

Smith said Saturday's trip to view the course helped in Monday's victory.

"We came up on Saturday and viewed the course," Smith said. "It's got a lot of twists and turns. It's always a good event each year (and) it's a good time to get together with the other area teams."

Heritage had five other runners place in the top 20: Ali Grimes (seventh at 25:31); Kate Reach (12th); Shea Smith (15th); Maggie Barhite (17th) and Arielle Gunderson (20th).

Eastside was runner-up for the second consecutive season but had a trio of runners place in the top six. Blakely Smith finished third at 23:49, one second behind Killingsworth, while Naomi Denby was fourth at 24:50 and Mariah Parker sixth at 25.18. Eastside coach Leah Carlisle was particularly impressed with Denby, Parker and Taylor Davis, who finished 25th (27:10).

"They've been running surprisingly well," Carlisle said. "I've got two girls (Parker and Davis), something's lit a fire under their butt (and) Denby, this is her first year running."

Host Rockdale had two top-10 finishers in Lauren Coursey (fifth at 25:04) and Emily Boyer (ninth at 25:49) and coach Chester Fuller was pleased with the improvement the team showed since last Monday's home meet.

"I thought the girls ran real well; on average, a minute to a minute and a half faster than last Monday," he said. "We ran much faster."

Taviana Nolley led the way for Newton, crossing the finish line at 25:45 to place eighth. Desiree Hines slipped into the top 10, finishing in 10th place, three seconds in front of Eastside's Alle Haynie.

"Desiree's been a top finisher for us and Taviana has come on strong," said Rams coach Aaron Robinson. "All the girls are running pretty well this year."

Alcovy's Makiala Houseworth and Meagan Tucker finished a second apart, in 18th-place (26:29) and 19th-place (26:30), respectively. Tucker bested her previous top time by more than two seconds and Matresa Flowers; 27th-place time of 28:10 was also a personal best.

One of the most inexperienced squads at the meet, Salem, had three top-30 finishers. Morgan Reed was 13th (26:20), while Brittany Freeman finished 22nd (27:05) and Denique Lindsey, 29th (28:26).

Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at kurt.aschermann@rockdalecitizen.com.