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Newton's Alex Grady led trail blazers

COVINGTON -- With all the markers removed and most of the leaves on the ground from the trail where these valiant runners came up with strategies for the next move, the time to recognize their efforts is upon us as with the All-Citizen Boys Cross Country team.

There should be little doubt that Newton junior Alex Grady is the top cross county runner in Rockdale and Newton counties. Not only did he win the Region 2-AAAAA tournament in under 17 minutes (16:54), he also won the NewRock competition with a time of 17:22. But he waited until the Class AAAAA meet to place one of his best times of the season finishing 13th overall with a time of 16:29.

Salem's Gabriel Alvarez also made things happen during his junior year. When he had to pull out a good time Alvarez was able to get it done. He set his new personal best (16:49) to place as runner-up in the Region 8-AAAA meet. Even though Salem as a team did not qualify for the state meet, Alvarez was able to compete as an individual where be placed 21st running the course in 17:03.

Joining Alvarez as a first-team runner is senior teammate Dontavius Wright. Unfortunately, Wright was just off the mark missing a trip to the state meet as an individual runner placing 11th when he crossed the finish line in 17:49. He placed third in NewRock (18:16) while setting a season best early in the year, finishing the Sandy Creek Fall Classic in 17:11.

Sophomore Malik McCrary (Heritage) was consistent for most of the season keeping his time within a few seconds from one race to another. In the 5,000-meter Golden Eye Invitational, McCrary finished in 14th place with a time of 18:04 which was four seconds off the time of his next race (Winder-Barrow Invitational) which he ran in 18:08. He ran the NewRock, where he finished fourth, in 18:27, only to run the region championship in 18:30. His best time of the season was the Aubrae Gunderson Invite, where he placed eighth with a time of 17:53.

Rockdale's Patrick Massey, a freshman, was a surprise to an otherwise uneventful season. As the season went on Massey's times got lower for the most part. After running his first event in 19:43 (Wesleyan No. 2 where he placed 55th), Massey dropped his time in his next two meets, ending the Region 8-AAAA championship with a personal record of 17:50.

Finishing up the first team are senior teammates Michael Johnson-Weeks and Ryan Farrow from Eastside.

Both runners were influential in helping the Eagles make it to the Class AAAA state meet. Weeks ran the Region 4-AAA meet in 18:26 with Farrow being the second Eastside runner to cross the finish line in 19:06 to give Eastside a third-place finish in the region. In the state meet, Weeks ran the course in 18:13 with Farrow finishing in 18:45.

Making the second team were San Marteen Rozier (Heritage), Shemar Rannie (Newton), Sean McDuffie (Newton), Michael Hurley (Salem), Zach Whiten (Heritage), Joey Ellwanger (Eastside) and Victor Beitran (Heritage).

Honorable mention honors went to Newton's Jose Rivera along with Thomas Donaldson, Mario Harris and Phillip Kelley all from Heritage.