The Oconee County High School boys cross country team took home the AAA state title on Saturday, the team’s first in more than 20 years. The girls earned second for the third consecutive year.
Before the season started, Oconee High School Cross Country Coach Jake Forrester thought he might have the ingredients for a special season.
“Right after they released the new classifications, it was obvious to us that this season was going to have a special opportunity,” said Forrester, who is in his third year as head coach of the Warriors. “We knew going into the season with this opportunity in hand that we had to have a balance of trusting in the process while also making the necessary changes to get us to the next level.”
So on Saturday, when the scores were tallied and the team had earned a dominant victory, Forrester said he felt a range of emotions: satisfaction, pride and relief.
“Seeing the commitment of those boys all season long, hearing the way they talked about the season, the nature with which they approached [the season], it was with a very humble attitude,” said Forrester. “They knew there was one goal for the season and they had to consistently put the work in until they got there.”
Despite the pressure of holding down the No. 1 position in state polls for most of the season, the boys delivered a stellar performance on race day, taking the top two places in the race. Freshman Aaron Brodrick took first overall in 16:35, one of just a few freshmen boys in state history to win a state title. Junior Cooper Timberman took second in 16:51 on the challenging 5k course at Carrollton Elementary School. Brodrick’s individual cross country title is the first for OCHS since Nicole Pachuta won the girl’s race in 2017, and the first boys title since David Kawa crossed the line first in 2001.
Junior Patterson Graham followed quickly into the finish, grabbing a top 10 spot in 8th place in 17:25. Senior Captain Andrew Knapp (20th, 18:04) and junior Noah Scheuer (22nd, 18:07) rounded out the Warriors’ scorers. Also competing on Saturday were Champ Blose (29th, 18:24) and junior Spencer Hostetter (50th, 19:21).
“This season has been an absolute blast,” said Knapp. “I’m so proud of what this team has accomplished this season…. It has been a non-stop grind and to be able to take home the title means everything. We had the perfect mixture of talent, good coaching and motivation that brought us the state title.”
The Warriors scored 51 points. Atlanta’s Wesleyan School was second with 115 points, followed by Pike County (146) and Pickens County (154) - in cross country, the lowest score wins.
The Lady Warriors took second in the state for the third year in a row thanks to strong pack running. Wesleyan took the title with 48 points, but places 2-5 were up for grabs, and the Lady Warriors gritted out a tough run to keep their streak of top two finishes alive. The Lady Warriors finished with 99 points, Mary Persons had 106, Columbus had 114, and Dawson County had 119.
Seniors Emma Champer (11th, 21:29) and Molly Meeks (14th, 21:45) led the Lady Warriors. Senior Leah John (24th, 22:00), junior Ellen Patterson (26th, 22:17), and junior Mary Matthews (27th, 22:18) rounded out the Lady Warriors top five. Also competing were sophomores Elzie Baker (54th, 24:11) and Cadence Keese (82nd, 25:32).
Forrester credited his team’s experience with helping them pull out the strong performance.
For more on this story, see the Nov. 9 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, call (706) 769-5175 or visit the tab on our website.