The Richmond Hill Middle School boys' team captured the state championship Saturday at the Georgia Middle School State Cross Country Large School Race.
The race, held in Bleckley County, is for middle schools that feed into 5A, 6A and 7A high schools.
The Wildcats had a combined score of 101 points, besting the second-place finisher by 26 points.
“I am extremely proud of all of our runners,” Coach Christopher Willis said. “They trained hard through hot weather, hurricane delays and my speed workouts.”
The RHMS program, which started just four years ago, has 25 boys and 16 girls. The assistant coach is Bonnie Terrell.
“It is difficult to compete against those Atlanta schools that get to train on hills daily,” Willis said. “We preached hard work and heart will help you win.”
Willis said the team’s motto is “beat that middle mile.”
The Wildcats title team and their times were: Justus Quiller, 12:01; Chase Van Ginkel, 12:21; Leighton Finley, 12:23; Kaleb Beckwith, 12:27; Gilbert Brown, 12:41; Trent Anderson, 12:48; and Noah Sybert, 13:35.
Quiller, Van Ginkel, Finley, Beckwith and Brown are eighth graders, while Anderson and Sybert are sixth graders.
The team competed in six meets leading up to the championships.