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Newton boys and girls cross county head back to state

COVINGTON -- Both of Newton's cross country squads are heading back to Carrollton to compete in the Class AAAAA meet after qualifying in the Region 2-AAAAA meet on Saturday at Luella.

The boys team had three runners finish in the top 10 on their way to a third-place finish with 51 points while the girls lost the tiebreaker with East Coweta to take the final qualifying spot coming in fourth as both teams earned 85 points.

Newton's girls finished close to a minute within each other as Maiya Newton came in 14th with a time of 24:25.14 while Cicely Inge came in 21st place in 25:28.52. Giving East Coweta the third-place spot in the meet was that its No. 1 runner, Rebecca Baker, came in ninth place with a time of 23:21.99.

Finishing between Newton and Inge were LaRobin Spencer (15 -- 24:31.02), Brittany Banks (17 -- 24:41.02) and Genevieve Antonie (18 -- 24:59. 27).

"That's one of the things that kept us there and gave East Coweta a scare," Newton head coach Aaron Robinson said about the grouping. "That's something to build on and I hope the girls realize how much of an accomplishment it is to qualify for state. I hope they do feel like it's some thing they can build on.

"They did their job and to make it as close as they did to third place was impressive. My hat's off to the girls; they all ran an excellent race. Running is such a relative sport and they're all brand new to it. They did a great job."

Luella won the region as a team with 29 points as four of their first five runners were the first four finishers. Newnan, which came in second as a team with 36 points, had its first runners finish in the five through eight spot.

Luella'a Paige Rankine was the region champion with a time of 19:31.08.

Even though Newton's Alex Grady won the region championship with a time of 16:54.49 and the other top two finishers were in the to 10, the boys, with 51 points, were five points behind Luella (46) and nine points behind region champion Westlake (42).

"Those are good squads. I can't say I wasn't disappointed with third place but I'm happy with the guys' performance," Robinson said. "We went out there with the idea that we were going to get an individual victory and a team win on the boys side. To come in as a team and take third place, we knew it was going to be tight. We went out there with the idea of winning and came up a little bit short but I feel like our guys went out there and gave it everything they had that day. The other two teams that finished ahead of us had experienced runners out there. They earned it and came through."

Finishing behind Grady were Shemar Rannie (9 -- 19:07.84), Sean McDuffie (10 -- 19:12.62), Jose Rivera (12 -- 19:39.99) and Bryan Harrison (20:06.99).

Coming in fourth place as a team was Newnan with 104 points.

"For the boys, this is their eighth consecutive trip to the state meet. That's a streak we want to maintain. The girls, we had an off year about three years ago where they didn't qualify. It's been close here since, so it's an accompaniment to go back and repeat as state qualifiers," said Robinson. "We just want to do our best (at state) and see what happens."