For the second year in a row, Putnam County High’s girls cross country team is going to Carrollton High School for the Georgia High School Association Class AA championships.
In a season that started with only as many as three girls participating for the Lady War Eagles, Putnam County had seven running in the Region 4-AA championships held Oct. 26 at Oglethorpe High School. With sophomore Lily Frisch breaking up what was an Oglethorpe domination early in the finish line by placing fifth overall and teammate Ana Barranco also in the top 10, Putnam topped Johnson-Augusta for the second-place team trophy with 56 points.
Frisch ran a time of 25:06.61 and Barranco, also a sophomore, 28:34.
Four Lady War Eagles crossed the line one after the other: Mariafernanda Rangel, Lexi Morris, Gracie Bird and Lacey Bruce, all of whom are either freshmen or sophomores.
It was an accomplishment that certainly exceeded coach Joe Hutsell’s expectations, and the biggest benefit for the program he said will be the extra days of practice leading up to Nov. 5.
“It will jumpstart them to try even harder next year,” said Hutsell.
Hutsell’s goal at the start of the season was to encourage those from Putnam County High’s other athletic programs to add cross country to their schedule. Frisch was a member of the War Eagle softball team whom Hutsell said did a lot of her running on her own like during physical education class or after softball practice. When softball season ended, Frisch was able to devote more time to cross country team practice.
Morris was another softball player who will also be in Hutsell’s wrestling program, and Bruce also played volleyball in its fall season.
What could also give the Lady War Eagles motivation to work for a spot on next year’s varsity team is that Putnam Middle School had a strong season and looks to send three current eighth graders to high school in 2022.
Putnam County’s boys cross country team placed sixth at 138 points, four behind Richmond County Technical Career Magnet but one ahead of Johnson-Augusta. Sophomore Christian Hernandez, a soccer player, had a top 10 individual showing at 21:04.61, a personal best. Other War Eagle runners making up the team score were Gavin Newton, Ty Young, Luke Armistead and Mark Winslette.
Hutsell said the boys effort was hindered by missing runners due to injury or illness.
“Hernandez did a great job,” he said. “He came out for cross country to get in shape for soccer. But our No. 2 guy was out all year with an injury.”
Hutsell continues to encourage participation in the cross country program, not just for the chance to win trophies but for the fitness opportunity that will help a student’s future health and to build camaraderie in school.