Editor's Note: An abridged version of this story appears in the Sept. 16, 2021, edition of The Oconee Enterprise.

The cross-country season is off and running in Oconee County.

High school runners from throughout the area started competing over the last few weeks and, already, they are showing their dominance.

Athens Academy started its season by sending representatives to the North Georgia Two Mile Stage Races held at East Jackson on Aug. 14.

Several Spartans competed across a few mixed varsity races.

The Athens Academy girls team won its event, finishing with a total time of 38:04.82. That was nearly one minute better than second-place Cherokee Bluff (39:56.69).

Sarah Harrison placed first among the girls field. Harrison finished the event in 12:13.33. Nathalie Lavender placed fifth in 12:47.95. Davis McLanahan rounded out the top 10 in 13:03.54.

Jackson Scruggs was fifth among the boys with a time of 10:17.82. Robbie Dillon was 23rd in 11:43.25 and Thomas Meyer was 29th at 12:03.71.

Collectively, Athens Academy’s boys finished eighth with a total time of 34:04.78.

Another group of Athens Academy boys competed in a different collection of runners that same day.

Will DeLoach placed seventh in that field with a time of 11:15.27. Tom Hollingsworth was 36th in 13:08.73. Walter Hequembourg used a time of 14:44.04 to finish 47th.

Those times gave Athens Academy a seventh place team finish with a total time of 39:08.04.

On Aug. 28, Athens Academy sent runners to the North Georgia Championships at Lamar Murphy Park.

The boys team placed third in the 5K with 158 points.

Jackson Scruggs won the event, finishing in 16:28.74. Dillon was 11th in 18:18.89 while DeLoach placed 18th in 18:33.65. Hequembourg finished 30th at 19:21.82.

Hollingsworth ran the event in 22:05.64 to finish 109th. Ricardo Urena was 126th in 22:27.10, Evan Smith was 134th in 22:49.12, Franklin Williams placed 168th in 25:06.10, Taylor Leach ran 169th in 25:08.32 and John Arnold finished 181st in 28:55.08.

For the girls team, Harrison placed 14th in the 5K championships in 21:10.51. Lavender was 19th in 21:40.55. Amy Tran was 25th at 22:02.92.

Athens Academy’s boys won their first home meet Sept. 4. The Spartans combined for 21 points, best among the seven schools represented.

Thirteen Spartans represented their team during the event. Scruggs won the race in 16:27.27 with DeLoach right behind in second (18:05.91). Meyer (fourth, 18:26.77), Dillon (fifth, 18:35.34) and Hequembourg (ninth, 19:20.04) placed in the top 10.

The Lady Spartans won on Sept. 4 as well. They totaled 33 points, first among the five-school field.

In total, 17 girls from Athens Academy contributed to the dominant performance. Harrison placed first in 20:10.94. McLanahan (fourth, 21:34.71), Tran (fifth, 21:42.32) and Adelaide Ellis (ninth, 23:08.22) finished among the top 10 individually.

Oconee County High School’s girls team was well represented on Aug. 28 during the Bob Blastow event held at McIntosh Nature Preserve in Whitesburg, Georgia.

As a team, the Lady Warriors finished second in one of the two groupings of teams competing in the 5,000-meter race that day. Oconee’s 65 points were bested by only Midtown, which finished first with 56 points. Oconee’s impressive placement was out of a field of 19 schools.

Sydney Matthews led the Lady Warriors by finishing seventh in 20:40.01. Molly Meeks earned a 10th place finish with a time of 20:56.50.

Kensley McConnell was 16th in 21:14.54 with Emma Champer close behind in 16th at 21:19.17. Ellen Patterson was 21st in 21:44.16. Leah John was 32nd with a time of 22:29.06.

Mary Matthews finished in 22:29.85, good for 33rd, and Allie Parsons was 63rd in 23:59.80.

Prince Avenue Christian School’s boys and girls teams participated in the Wesleyan School Invitational, held in Norcross on Aug. 28.

As a team, the Wolverines placed seventh in the varsity boys division for the 5,000-meter run. They totaled 201 points for the event.

The Prince Avenue varsity girls team finished eighth at 190 points.

Parker Houck finished highest on the boys team. Houck placed 33rd with a time of 20:46.28, followed by Sage Milner in 35th (20:53.38) and Lawson Waye in 36th (20:54.32).

Timothy Furlow used a time of 22:29.31 to run 55th. A.J. Simpkins placed 59th in 22:53.76.

Daniel Bell finished 62nd in 23:31.71. Seth Jernigan placed 63rd in 23:32.13. Wade David ran the event in 24:40.97, good for 68th.

For the Lady Wolverines, Ashlyn Smith ran the event in 24:09.21, earning 25th. Kaitlyn Ward was 39th in 25:41.43. Brittan McGinn finished 42nd in 25:57.44.

Sallie Simpkins ran the race in 26:56.79, finishing 52nd, while Abby Fisher placed 55th in 27:52.93 and Kinsley Bowen (28:04.66) was 58th.

Naomi Gowder finished 63rd (29:47.37) and Ella Baldwin was 64th (30:28.11). Abby Weaver placed 67th in 32:05.95 while Melissa Holt finished 68th in 33:08.80 and Gabi Timms placed 69th in 33:36.79.

North Oconee High School opened its cross-country season Aug. 14 in the stage races held at East Jackson.

In the girls 2-mile run, Liv Bledsoe finished seventh in 12:57.19. Hannah Marlowe was 23rd in 14:29.42, followed by Kyla Scott in 27th (15:02.31).

Those girls combined for a time of 42:28.92, sixth in the competition.

Matthew Honeycutt led the North Oconee boys in that race with a 16th place finish in 11:05.38. Krish Patel was 27th in 11:55.52 while Matthew Kajder placed 32nd in 12:13.31.

Those times totaled 35:14.21, good for ninth as a team.

In another group that day, Emily Smith finished second in 13:37.36. Kearsen Self finished 25th in 17:08.72, Sydney Waters finished 27th in 17:34.84 and Emma Poole was 30th in 17:45.69.

Those totaled 48:20.92, helping the Lady Titans finish fifth as a group.

David Duncan led North Oconee’s boys in that group with a time of 11:29.92, good for 12th. Jake Arnold finished 26th in 12:29.96, Dillon Bloom was 31st in 12:54.08 and Benjamin Pearce was 35th in 13:01.31.

Those times combined to 36:53.96, giving the Titans a sixth place result.

A third group of runners competed that same day.

Gabriella Card paced the Lady Titans in 16:05.65 to finish seventh. Copelan Richardson finished 15th in 17:43.43 and Lillian Cook was 21st in 19:28.54.

With those times, the Lady Titans finished fourth as a group in 53:17.62.

Spencer Suveg-Dippel finished fourth among the boys competitors. Nicholas Ryan was behind him in fifth with a time of 11:57.12. Brennan Kajder was 10th in 12:24.11.

Those runners totaled 36:14.67, giving North Oconee a second place result.

North Oconee’s boys finished ninth in the NEGA Championships on Aug. 21.

Honeycutt led the Titans that day with a time of 18:53.17, good for 26th. Duncanc finished 33rd in 19:21.67. Patel was 44th in 19:52.72. Ryan placed 47th in 20:02.32. Suveg-Dippel placed 50th in 20:03.70.

North Oconee’s girls competed in that event, too, finishing seventh as a team.

Ava Caldwell led the way in 10th with a time of 21:30.19. Bledsoe was 16th in 21:58.02, Marlowe was 38th in 24:42.63, Card finished 46th in 26:33.47 and Scott ran the event in 27:14.01 to finish 50th.

North Oconee hosted its first home meet Sept. 2.

The girls team placed seventh in the field with 178 points. Bledsoe finished sixth overall in 21:25.38, leading a field of seven Lady Titans.

Eight boys represented North Oconee during the competition.

Honeycutt finished the highest among them, placing 19th in 18:19.17.

Seven girls and six boys from North Oconee competed in the Carrollton Orthopedic Invitational last Saturday, Sept. 11.

The Lady Titans finished 12th as a group while the Titans finished 14th.

Bledsoe finished highest among the girls, running in 21:01.40 to place third. Honeycutt led the North Oconee boys, finishing 20th in 19:02.88.

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