Bartow County didn’t have a cross country team finish on the podium at the state meets this year, but the locals still put together some impressive performances Saturday at Carrollton.
Woodland junior Rylee Evans led the individuals for Bartow, finishing fourth overall in Class 5A. After placing ninth in 2019, Evans completed the course nearly 33 seconds quicker this time around, crossing the finish line with a time of 19 minutes, 27.13 seconds.
The only individuals to finish ahead of Evans were two runners from 5A champion St. Pius X, who finished 1-2, and one from second-place Blessed Trinity. There was a somewhat similar showing at the top on the boys side, as runner-up Decatur had the two fastest runners and winner St. Pius had the third-place finisher.
Speaking of the boys race, Cartersville came in sixth overall to lead all local teams. It’s the third consecutive season the Canes have finished sixth at state, although the first two instances occurred in 4A.
Sidney Stegall (17:31.84) and Bill Archer (17:34.01) went back-to-back at 26th and 27th overall, respectively, to pace Cartersville. Sam Peters (17:48.56) and Colin McCann (17:49.77) did the same thing to come in 42nd and 43rd, respectively.
Levi Booth rounded out the Canes scorers, finishing 61st with a time of 18 minutes, 4.51 seconds. Carson Gage’s 69th-place finish in 18 minutes, 19.52 seconds didn’t count towards Cartersville’s overall placement but was still impressive.
Led by Evans’ stellar performance, the Woodland girls came in seventh in 5A. The Wildcats placed three additional runners inside the top 50, as Erin Bollwerk (37th, 21:45.91), Olivia Berry (43rd, 21:52.85) and Danielle Thayer (50th, 22:03.15) all had strong showings.
Emma Segars (85th, 23:08.76) had the fifth-best performance for Woodland. Meanwhile, Marlee Bowles (98th, 23:32.23) managed a top-100 finish as the team’s top “tiebreaker.”
Woodland’s boys team wound up 13th.
McKinley Chappell had the team’s top performance, coming in 51st overall with a time of 17 minutes, 51.45 seconds. Patrick Bollwerk (17:59.23) wasn’t far behind in 58th position. Tyler Jones (82nd, 18:31.56), Drew Thayer (89th, 18:41.52) and John Forsyth (102nd, 18:50.13) concluded the Wildcats’ five scorers.
McKinsey Spinks finished first among the Cartersville girls, who came in 15th overall. The junior barely edged out Woodland’s Danielle Thayer to come in 49th in 22 minutes, 3.12 seconds. Sophomore Elizabeth Nelson (22:50.38) wrapped up a solid debut season with a 74th-place finish, and Trinity Atkins (22:56.56) crossed the line seconds later in 76th.
Meredith Gaines (23:09.69) ran well for the Canes, finishing less than a second behind Segars in 86th. Samantha Herrera (24:04.28) posted Cartersville’s No. 5 finish, crossing the line in 116th place.