Heritage boys, Eastside girls win cross country opener

SPALDING -- Two area teams made their presence felt this past weekend in the cross country season opener.

At the Jag Invitational at Spalding High School, the Heritage boys and Eastside girls took home team titles Saturday, and nearly two dozen runners placed in the top 25. Malik McCrary won the individual boys title to help pace the Patriots. The sophomore ran in 17 minutes and 55 seconds, out-pacing Mary Persons High School's Caleb Watson by 17 seconds. McCrary was joined by top-10 finishers Sam Marteen Rozier, a freshman who placed fourth at 18:51, junior Thomas Donaldson (7th, 19:30) and senior Victor Beltran (9th, 19:52). Also finishing in the top 25 for Heritage were junior Zach Whiten (13th, 20:01) and freshman Chase Hall (23rd, 21:17).

The Eastside girls had six top-25 finishers to help bring home the team title. Freshmen Rhodelle Lewis and Breanna Thornton finished fourth and fifth, respectively, running in 23:43 and 23:51, while junior Sarah Gaddis was seventh with a time of 24:03. Seniors Blakely Smith (14th, 25:16), Naomi Denby (15th, 25:21) and Melissa Howard (25th, 27:01) also ran well.

Heritage finished a close second on the girls' side, thanks to five top-25 placers. For the Patriots, senior Simone Worthy led the way with an 8th-place time of 24:06, while sophomores Ally Silvey (9th, 24:25) and Emily Taylor (10th, 24:35) finished in the top 10. The Patriots got two other high finishes from senior Lena Killingsworth (18th, 26:00) and sophomore Mikayla Nolden (20th, 26:17).

Eastside finished second on the boys' side, led by 8th-place finisher and senior Michael Johnson-Weeks (19:41). Also placing high for the Eagles were junior Conner Haler (11th, 19:55), senior Kyle Yeomans (19th, 20:35), junior Joey Ellwanger (20th, 20:39) and senior Dustin Gentis (24th, 21:18).

The Rockdale boys' highest placer was freshman Jacob Culver, who ran a 21:49 to finish 31st.Austin Has Huge Day for Staten IslandSunday was kind to Tyler Austin. The former Heritage standout, in his first full season of professional baseball with the New York Yankees organization, went 6-for-6 in the New York-Penn League Staten Island Yankees' 16-1 win over Lowell. Austin hit his first home run with Staten Island and drove in four runs, raising his average 78 points to .328.