Moving up to Class 7A didn’t slow down Memphis Rich or the Richmond Hill cross country express.
Rich became the Wildcats’ second boys individual state champion in cross country and third overall when he covered the rugged hilly 5K course at Carrollton in a time of 16:21.10 to easily outdistance second-place Jared Montgomery of Marietta by 19 seconds. Jalen Murray, who signed with Alabama, won the Class 6A individual title in 2018 in a time of 15:58.45. Kayla Gholar, now at Tennessee, won the girls individual championship the following year.
The win for the Richmond Hill junior capped a dominating season for the Wildcats who finished ninth in the team standings. It marked the sixth top 10 finish in the state meet under Coach Levi Sybert who took over the program in 2010.
Richmond Hill won the Class 6A state championship last year.
Fellow junior Noah Sybert had the next best finish for the Wildcats as he placed 24th in a time of 17:36.46. Others scoring for Richmond Hill were sophomore Benjamin Hall who was 46th in a time of 17:56.14, senior Benjamin Spikes was 117th at 19:08.92 and freshman Noah Bowman was 127th in the field of 222 at 19:14.90.
The girls team also continued its remarkable run as it finished ninth for an eighth top 10 finish under Sybert. Freshman Jolee Mitchell, who had finished third in the Region 1 meet the week before behind teammates Julia Wilson and Iris Turner, was Richmond Hill’s top finisher as she claimed 17th place in a time of 20:29.26.
Wilson, a junior was 22nd at 20:42. 25, freshman Adeline Althen was 49th, junior Kyle Kitchens-Hayes was 79th and Turner, a freshman, placed 83rd in a field of 223.
Leading up to the state meet the Wildcats continued their dominance at the region level as the girls won their 11th straight region championship and the boys won their 10th straight.
In the Region 1 meet held at Coffee County it was no contest in both divisions with Rich winning the boys title in a time of 16:21.10 and Wilson took the honors in the girls division at 19:53.50.
With the top five finishers scoring Sybert was second in the region, Hall was fifth and Spikes was 11th. Bowman was 12th and Chris Rogero was 31st. Richmond Hill had 23 points and Lowndes County was a distant second with 45.
Wilson, Turner and Mitchell were the top three girls finishers while Alannah Bowling was sixth and Althen was seventh. Summer Chirpich was eighth and Kitchen-Hayes 10th.
Bryan County’s boys took 28th place in the Class A-D1 state meet after finishing fourth in the Region 3A-D1 meet. The Redskins girls were 18th in the state meet and third in the region. Freshman Will Summerford was Bryan County’s top finisher in the state meet as he finished 102nd in a time of 20:55.92. He had finished sixth in the region meet behind teammate sophomore Geoff Hovis who took fifth at 20:28.00. Hovis was 146th in the state meet.
Other state meet finishers for Bryan County boys were junior Rodney Johnson (128), Julian Nicholson, Noah Hilliard and Alexander Asselin.
In the girls state meet Bryan County’s top three finishers were all freshmen with Lanny Sehr leading the way at 84th-place. Next came Adelaide Longino and Nevaeh Kiefer. Sophomores Katelyn King, Haley Thomas and Jacqueline Rubio-Torres completed the 5K race.
Longinio finished ninth in the region meet at Screven County while Sehr was 10th. King claimed 13th, Kiefer was 14th and Thomas 21st.