The Southland boys cross country team poses with its GISA Class AAA state championship trophy on Saturday. Team members are, from left, Brandon Revell, Andrew McDonald, Ellis Ivey, Alex Arnold, Trent Rundle, Brian Miller, Geoffrey McDonald, Brandon Looney, Billy Calcutt, Ridge Roland and Wright Calhoun, along with coaches Paula McDonald and Patrick Calcutt in front. (Patrick Calcutt/Special to The Herald)
LOGANVILLE — Southland boys cross country coaches Patrick Calcutt and Paula McDonald had just watched their team run the race of their lives Saturday in the GISA Class AAA state meet.
And then with one glance at the final score sheet, it was their turn to take off running.
With their team 100 yards away doing its post-race stretching, Calcutt and McDonald immediately saw Southland listed as 2013 team champions on the freshly posted results and then bolted for their runners.
“The boys were running their cool down on the football field, and coach McDonald and I both went running after them with one finger in the air,” Calcutt said. “They turned around and saw us, and that’s when they found out they had won.
“We all ended up in a big pile in the middle of the football field.”
Southland star runner and reigning Herald Player of the Year Wright Calhoun, who had been changing his shoes next to the football field, was next to join the pile.
“All of a sudden (teammate Ridge Roland) pointed over at the football field, and we jumped up and tackled each other in the air,” Calhoun said. “Then we ran out there and jumped in the middle of the pile. It was like music to our ears to hear that we had won.”
Calhoun finished second individually for the second year in a row, but the Southland team avenged regular-season losses to Augusta Prep and Heritage and shocked the field with a Class AAA state championship.
Southland finished with 58 points, edging Augusta Prep (65) and Heritage (74).
It was close as the final runners were crossing the finish lines, and Calcutt and the Augusta Prep coaching staff were unsure who would take home the state title.
“We had no idea. Neither of us could figure out who won,” said Calcutt, whose Raiders finished third in the state meet last season. “We had to wait until they posted the results, and I was standing there and could see the sheets coming out of the printer one-by-one. I was afraid to look, but then they put the first sheet on the board and I saw Southland on the top of the sheet. And that’s all I needed to see.”
Calhoun, who led for much of the race, finished runner-up to Westminster’s Evan Downs with a time of 17:12. Also scoring for Southland were Billy Calcutt (5th, 17:28), Brian Miller (12th, 18:16), Geoffrey McDonald (13th, 18:27) and Brandon Looney (26th, 19:08).
The Raiders’ team score was one their head coach had challenged them to meet earlier in the week.
“We gave each runner a specific point in the race to where he needed to be,” Calcutt said. “On Thursday, our last workout before we left to come and see this course, I took a stick and wrote the number 58 in the dirt. I told them that if we scored 58 points we would win the meet. And that’s exactly what we did.”
Calcutt said it wouldn’t have been possible without his Nos. 3-5 runners, who each improved from last year’s state championship race.
“We could not have won it without what they did (Saturday),” he said.
The Deerfield-Windsor boys finished 14th and were led by Hadden Kelley, who finished 31st with a time of 19:28. Also scoring for the Knights were Cody Callahan (47th, 20:28), Jackson Allegood (77th, 22:01), Jackson Eubanks (79th, 22:13) and Matt Williams (95th, 23:30).
Mount de Sales won the girls’ Class AAA meet with 77 points, finishing ahead of Augusta Prep (96 points) and Holy Spirit Preparatory (104).
The Southland girls finished seventh with 161 points, while Deerfield came in ninth with 210 points.
Deerfield’s Virginia Moore was the top girls runner from Southwest Georgia, finishing fifth with a time of 20:39.
“Virginia ran beautifully,” DWS coach Cathy Jones said. “This is her first year in cross country, but she gave them a run for their money. I think (the other teams) will be watching her closely next year because she was very tough competition (Saturday).”
Southland’s top finishers were Chris Shattles (13th, 21:35), Sydney Hayes (19th, 22:17), Lilly Dickens (26th, 22:54), Sara Westra (43rd, 24:31) and Quinn Hanson (60th, 25:47).
Behind Moore, Deerfield’s top finishers were Mattie Veilands (36th, 23:39), Helena Augustein (54th, 25:22), Madison Sauls (56th, 25:30) and Bonnie Miller (59th, 25:36).
Class AA state meet
Trinity Christian easily won the GISA Class AA boys state meet with a score of 28, while Frederica Academy (108 points) edged out Covenant Academy (116) for second place.
Westwood finished in 11th place and was led by Brandon Butler’s 28th-place finish in 21:20. Other top runners for Westwood were Bren Johnson (49th, 22:31), Luke Hall (55th, 22:55), Akhay Patel (60th, 23:12) and West Rogers (74th, 26:29).
Westminster won the Class AA girls meet with 53 points, and St. Andrews (80 points) beat out Trinity Christian for second place on a tie-breaker.
The top individual runners from Southwest Georgia in the girls meet were Katherine McGarr (4th, Crisp Academy, 21:13), Samantha Pappas (12th, Sherwood, 22:12) and Morgan Godwin (43rd, Westwood, 27:10).