The Putnam County girls cross country team reached new heights recently, finishing second as a team in the region 4-AA meet to qualify for the 2020 AA Girls Cross Country State Championships.
Hoping to ride that momentum to a big day in Carrollton last Saturday, the Lady War Eagle trailblazers competed in a field of 165 runners and came away with a 20th place finish in state AA competition.
“State was incredible. This was my first time going as well. The atmosphere was tense, but very relaxed,” said coach Joe Hutsell. “Cross country is such a tight knit group. Every runner (and spectator) supports one another. There are no hostilities in the air like at so many other sporting venues.”
Freshman Lily Frisch (25:37) had the best Putnam finish in 61st place followed by senior Rebecca Hildreth (26:18) in the 75th spot. From there, things seemed to drop some as freshman Lexi Morris (29:06) finished in 112th place while senior Samantha Wilkins finished her career in the 132nd spot followed by Katelyn Jones, Lily Thomas and Mayjewel Crosby.
In the overall team competition, Pace Academy won the state title followed bu Lovett and Bleckley County. Oglethorpe County and Jeff Davis rounded out the top five finishes.
The times may have been slowed by pre-race rain causing the 3.1 mile course to be wet at the beginning of the meet but things tried to clear up, Hutsell noted.
“The weather didn’t cooperate as it was raining the entire morning and the course was very wet,” he said. “It’s hard to complain about that, because every runner must face the same conditions. When the starting gun went off, the rain went away.”
At the end of the day and another season, Hutsell said all is well in the program and eyes are already set on 2021.
“Overall we had a great time. It was an experience that should make the girls work harder and want to be at the state meet each year,” Hutsell said. “The state meet definitely makes you want to go each year, and hopefully the girls will continue to put the work in during the off season.
“Running through a season littered with COVID was not fun, but it was memorable to say the least. Coach [Dawn] Walker took the girls to the University of West Georgia on Friday and they got to do a college tour before the practice round. She is a great coach, mentor and an even better person.”