Big season for LHS runners
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
What a journey it’s been for the LaGrange High boys’ cross-country team.
After winning the Region 5-AAAA championship in 2017 and 2018, LaGrange earned a second-place finish at this year’s region meet that was held at Clinton Farms in Douglasville.
LaGrange will finish what has been another exceptional season at the Class AAAA state meet in Carrollton.
In what will be the first of six races on Friday, LaGrange will hit the course on at 9 a.m. along with the other top boys’ teams in Class AAAA.
It will be the final race for a group of seniors who have accomplished a great deal during their time at the school, including the back-to-back region titles.
At the region meet last week, six of the top seven LaGrange runners were seniors, including Alex Bowie and Miller Penn, who were the team’s top finishers.
Other seniors who competed at region were John McDonald, Alex Martin, Matthew Callaway and Terry Franklin.
“We’ve become really good friends,” said Penn, who who transferred to LaGrange from Upson-Lee before his junior season. “It’s fun to come and hang out for an hour and a half every day.”
Bowie, who has had an exceptional prep career in cross country, track and field and soccer, paced LaGrange at the region meet with a fourth-place finish while posting a time of 16 minutes, 47 seconds.
Penn (17:00) was next for LaGrange in fifth place, junior Nathan Fritchley (17:22) placed eighth, and McDonald (17:29) was 10th.
Martin (17:46) was next for LaGrange in 13th place, and Callaway (17:57) and Franklin (18:06) were 14th and 17th, respectively.
LaGrange also had a handful of runners in the junior-varsity race, including Aaron Fritchley (17:49), who was second.
Aaron Fritchley’s time was good enough that he’ll be in the lineup at the state meet.
Also in the junior-varsity race, Bo Beall (17:51) was fourth, and Christian Ceja (19:17) and Julian Santiago (19:33) were 13th and 14th, respectively.
While LaGrange had a strong performance at region, it was unable to keep pace with Cartersville, which eased to the team title.
Cartersville had five of the top seven finishers, including the first three. It was the second time this season the two teams went head-to-head, and Cartersville came out on top both times.
“We ran against them in Carrollton, and they beat us pretty good there,” said LaGrange coach Chase Wilson. “But they beat us at Carrollton last year and we were able to beat them (at region). They were just too much this year.”
Wilson added that “it’s tough to win region. We just got beat by a better team. It’s what happens.”
LaGrange finished 10th at last year’s state meet, and it will try to improve on that on Friday.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Callaway, who will make the transition to wrestling when cross-country season ends. “We’ve put in a lot of practice, and it’s going to show at state.”
Penn hasn’t had much success on the course in Carrollton, and he’ll try to reverse that trend on Friday.
“I’ve never really had a good race there, so I’m hoping I can get one of those on Friday,” Penn said.
The idea, Penn said, is to “just go out there and see how fast I can go, because the course runs pretty slow.”