By MICHAEL ALEXANDER, Staff Photographer | Published November 20, 2008
The boys and girls cross country teams of Our Lady of Mercy High School won the Class A state championship at Carrollton High School, Nov. 8. For the boys it was their third consecutive state title. The girls won their first title after finishing in the top three for the last four years. Mercy’s boys also solidified their dominance in the sport as four-time consecutive county champs and three-time consecutive region champs.
Third-year head coach Mark Tolcher said, “I’m most proud of how patient and hard working they were. They bought into what our approach was and stayed focused on the end of the season goals.”
In the boys state finals field of 193 runners, Mercy was led by top 20 finishers Matt Lethbridge (third) at 16:08, Jared Cooper (eighth) at 16:59, Jake Lethbridge (tenth) at 17:17, Jonathan Bridier (12th) at 17:22 and Justin Yakubesan (14th) at 17:26.
In a field of 80 runners the girls were led by top 20 finishers Megan Malasarte (second) at 19:53, Andrea Raville (fifth) at 20:29, Colleen Kelly (14th) at 21:23 and Sarah Hohenberger (16th) at 21:40.
Based on times for all teams and all classifications, following the state meet, Our Lady of Mercy’s boys were ranked eighth in the state to end the season.
Tolcher added, “The teams’ performance for the season is definitely something the kids should be proud of. They worked extremely hard, worked well together as a team, committed to being great, and did everything necessary to come out on top. They take great pride in who they are as runners.”
Atlanta’s Marist School boys and girls teams also brought home state championships for Class AAAA. According to third-year head coach Eric Heintz the boys adhered to their race strategy perfectly. Senior runner David Connolly asserted himself to the front of the pack at the one-mile mark, and he won the race by more than 20 seconds at 16:16. Senior William Raffety pushed from sixth place to third place and eventually finished second at 16:37 after a move to overtake Lakeside Evans High School’s Atom Young. Juniors Charlie Fetter and Dylan Moore ran from seventh place to fourth and 12th place to ninth, respectively. Senior Steven Vickery scrapped and fought his way into the last spot in “the coveted top 15.” Connolly, Raffety and Vickery are all team captains. Coach Heintz said that by placing five runners in the top 15, and four in the top 10, Marist scored a super low 29 points and garnered a first place trophy.
The Marist girls followed on the heels of the boys’ exuberant victory and were looking for a similar outcome. Lakeside-Evans’ Anna Bowles blazed a fierce 5:42 first mile to string out the pack, but Marist junior Megan Mavity and sophomore Sophie Harkins placed themselves in the chase pack. Marist runners three through seven also went out fast and hovered around 20-35th place in the pack. The hard pace took a toll on all the teams, as well as the leader. Lakeside-DeKalb’s Megan Wetterhall pushed past Bowles a little after two miles, and Mavity was close behind in fourth. In the end Mavity ran her way into third place (19:29), losing to Bowles by just two seconds, and Harkins held on to ninth place for a top 10 finish at 19:58.
The Marist pack made up of junior Chelsea Fetter and seniors Paige Seymour and Emily Fawcett fought hard and secured 15th, 19th, and 21st place, respectively. The team’s 67 points were the lowest Marist total score in more than 10 years. Senior Camila Rodriguez also finished 26th and sophomore Mary de Groot finished in 43rd place. For the girls it was their sixth title in eight years, and for the boys it was their fifth in eight years.