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CARROLLTON, GA–On Nov. 12, the Athens Academy boys’ and girls’ cross country teams finished their seasons competing in the Georgia High School Association Class AA State Meet. It was the most successful state meet in school history, with the boys bringing home the state championship and the girls’ team finishing in second place. 

This is the second team title for the boys’ cross country program and falls on the 10-year anniversary of their 2012 State Championship. This win marks the 51st GHSA State Championship in Athens Academy history.

Having held the No. 1 ranking for the entire season, the boys’ team looked to fulfill a two-year goal of a state title. “This year’s team had a nice mixture of senior leadership and youthful talent,” said Coach Geoffrey Walton. “When we started practices in the heat of July, we knew we had the tools for a successful season. They were willing to work hard and had the temperament required to manage the ups and downs of a long season.”

According to Walton, the team remained steady the whole season and finished with their best race of the year. Senior Jackson Scruggs (17:22) capped off the season with a second place finish in his final state meet for the Spartans. He wraps up his career with two all-state finishes and as the third fastest runner in school history. 

Senior Robbie Dillon (9th; 18:00) and Junior Will DeLoach (10th; 18:01) also earned All-State honors. Rounding out the runners were junior Walter Hequembourg (21st; 18:41), senior Thomas Meyer (32nd; 19:11), junior Tom Hollingsworth (61st; 19:59), and freshman Henry Thomas Garrard (73rd; 20:12) 

“To have three runners in the top ten is a tremendous accomplishment,” said Walton. “It was fun to see seniors Jackson, Robbie and Thomas finish their careers in such a strong way. It is a testament to their leadership that this team remained focused and confident throughout the season.”

The Spartan girls’ team entered the state meet ranked No. 2 behind Savannah Arts Academy. According to Walton, “We knew going in that we were going to have to run our best race of the season, and that’s exactly what we did.” 

Athens Academy was led by sophomore Maya Davis (3rd; 19:55) and senior Sarah Harrison (4th; 20:10). Sophomore Adelaide Ellis (9th; 21:07) also earned All-State recognition. Finishing out the Spartan runners were sophomore Molly Smith (15th; 22:20), junior Margalit Mauricio (31st; 23:10), freshman Sloane Turner (55th; 24:29); and senior ClaraJane Williams (58th; 24:39). Harrison finished her career with her first All-State performance and helped lead the Spartans to state meet finishes of 4th (2019), 3rd (2020), 5th (2021), and 2nd – a remarkable run.

“We had 13 seniors on this year’s team, and I would like to give a shoutout to each of them,” said Walton. “It is their leadership that helped make this season so successful. These seniors graduate with eight region championships and eight top-five finishes in state championship meets.”

“This has been a wonderful group to work with for the past four years,” he continued. “Thank you to Sarah, Amy, ClaraJane, Mills, Lily, Louise, Caroline, Callie, Jackson, Robbie, Thomas, Ricardo and Taylor.”

While the Spartans lose several top runners to graduation, Walton is very excited about the potential for another strong year next year.

“We have several strong runners returning and a number of young runners waiting to join the top group,” he said. “The future is bright!” 

For more on this story, see the Nov. 17 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. 

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