Championship season for LaGrange
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
After coming so close to winning a region title a year ago, the LaGrange High girls’ cross-country team broke through that barrier this season.
LaGrange, which finished second in the Region 5-AAAA meet to Chapel Hill in 2018, raced to the top spot at this year’s region meet that was held at Clinton Farms in Douglasville.
It was a tight finish, with LaGrange narrowly out-distancing Cartersville and Chapel Hill, who tied for second.
LaGrange will look to keep the momentum going when it participates in the Class AAAA state meet in Carrollton.
LaGrange, along with the other top Class AAAA girls’ teams in the state, will hit the course at 9:45 a.m. on Friday.
Whatever happens on Friday, it has ready been a successful season for LaGrange.
In addition to the big win at the region meet, LaGrange also claimed the titles at the Callaway Invitational and the Troup County championship.
At the region meet, LaGrange found itself locked in a tight competition with Cartersville and Chapel Hill. When it was announced that Cartersville and Chapel Hill had tied for second, LaGrange’s runners knew the championship was theirs.
“When they called out (Cartersville and Chapel Hill) for second, we all got excited, because we all knew it, and we all screamed a little bit,” said Zamya Rhaney, who led LaGrange with a third-place finish. “When they called us up there, we were all excited.”
LaGrange finished third in the region in 2017 and second last year, so the team was focused on taking that next step this fall.
“The guys have been winning everywhere, and we wanted to get where they were,” said Lauren Farris, referring to the LaGrange boys’ team that won region titles in 2017 and 2018. “Winning region is definitely a goal every year.”
Chase Wilson, LaGrange’s head coach, was thrilled to see the girls’ team get the championship.
“They finished third, and then second, and then first, so I was happy for them to finally break through,” Wilson said. “It just seems like the past two years we’ve all been excited about the boys winning, and it seems like it’s been all about them. Now we get a chance for it to be all about the girls.”
A strength of LaGrange’s team is its depth. At the region meet, LaGrange had five runners finish 18th or higher, which is why it was able to edge Chapel Hill and Cartersville.
Zamya Rhaney posted a time of 20 minutes, 57 seconds to place third, and Zanay Rhaney (21:28) was sixth.
Next for LaGrange was Ivorie Smith (21:54) in 11th, Lauren Farris (22:23) was 16th, and Anna Doerr (22:29) placed 18th.
A pair of freshman, Tatum Fritchley (22:55) and Sophie Nix (23:03), were 24th and 26th, respectively.
LaGrange also had some runners fare well in the junior-varsity girls’ race.
Delfina Martinez (23:05) was third, Chloe Morman (24:18) was fifth, Lily Skipworth (27:14) finished 15th, and Gabi Martinez (28:30) finished 20th.
That depth, Zamya Rhaney said, “definitely helps us at practice. We push each other.”
Farris, who like most of her teammates will return next season, also appreciates having teammates who make sure she’s giving it her best.
“It’s one thing if you’re a good runner, but you don’t have people to push you,” Farris said. “You can’t get better if you don’t have people around you to push you. It’s definitely made our times faster.”