Newton cross country get two runners in top-20 at UGA Invitational

COVINGTON -- Newton cross country runners Alex Grady and Thomas Miller almost seem in mid-season form as they finished the UGA Invitational in Athens in the top 20 on Saturday.

Grady was seventh overall with a time of 16 minutes, 35.80 seconds with Miller crossing the finish line in 17:00,25 for 18th overall.

"Our No.1 and No.2 had a good day for their first race. They pretty much equalled their best times from last year," Newton head coach Aaron Robinson said. "At this time of the season, they're doing pretty good."

However, there was a big gap between the rest of the team as the third runner, Shemar Rannie, came in 142 with a time of 19:35.83.

"In that two minutes the (other) teams can squeeze in their five guys and that's how you lose. We have some work to do in that area and that's what we're focusing on. I think our top two are well on their way to a good season. We're hoping to get some support out of our other runners," Robinson said.

Also scoring for the boys were Sean McDuffie (162 -- 20:02.53) and Jose Rivera (163 -- 20:03.15).

Running but not giving Newton any points for this race were Randolph Barrat (198 -- 22:31.82) and Jordan Moon (211 -- 24:32.82).

As a team, the boys came in 19th out of 31 teams with 492 points, five behind North Oconee with 487 points.

"We're trying to see where we are, this is our first 5K of the season," Robinson said. "We knew that was going to be our weakness coming in this year like always. We're going to try to close the gap as much as possible. The guys that are running in those positions are basically new so expect to see a lot of improvement."

Even though Newton's girls finished last, many of them now know what to expect as this was their first race.

All five runners came between 179 and 188 place with LaRobin Spencer claiming the top sport for the Newton girls with a time of 29:20.84. Finishing right behind her for 180th place was Brittany Banks who ran the course in 29:21.81 followed by Genevieve Antonie (182 -- 29:46.63), Maiya Newton (187 -- 32:29.04) and Cicely Inge (188 -- 32:39.39).

"They're all new to cross country. For some of them, that was their very first 5K," Robinson said. "I expect, like some of the new boys, to see a lot of improvement over the course of the season and may be some surprises. We might have a couple in there that are better than they think they are. We're hoping for a lot of improvement and they'll have some fun doing it."