Both LaGrange teams finished third in Thursday’s Region 5-AAAA meet at Clinton Farms in Douglasville to qualify for state.
LaGrange turned in perhaps its finest performance of the year, as the top two boys’ runners set personal-best times, and the top girls’ runner smashed the school record that she broke less than a month ago.
Sarah Bearden broke the LaGrange school record on Oct. 6 at the Spalding Invitational with a time of 19 minutes, 59 seconds.
Bearden not only beat that time on Thursday afternoon, she did so by 56 seconds, finishing just three seconds behind winner Brittany Truitt of Alexander, who finished at 19 minutes even.
Bearden’s time was 19:03.
For the boys, freshman Sam Bowie finished in second place with a personal-best time of 16:06, putting him behind winner Hakeem Mustafaa of Shaw, who placed first with his time of 15:32.
Bowie’s previous personal-best was 16:48 that he set on Sept. 8 at the Panther Invitational.
Junior Andrew Coggins finished fourth in the boys’ race with a time of 16:18, and that eclipsed his personal-best time of 16:46 set on Sept. 29 at the Sandy Creek Invitational.
By finishing third as a team in the region meet, LaGrange’s teams earned the right to advance to the state cross-country meet on Nov. 10 in Carrollton.
The top four teams on the boys and girls sides qualified for state.
“We’re just so thrilled to be going to state,” LaGrange coach Brad Wilson said Thursday night. “The guys made it their goal to finish in the top 10 in the state and a chance to go there and to accomplish that goal is a big deal and we’re really excited.”
As far as the girls’ race, Wilson said, “we knew it was going to be a really, really close battle. They all just ran their hearts out and they got it done and I’m so happy to see both teams experience this together.”
Alexander’s boys’ and girls’ team finished in first place.
Other LaGrange runners competing includde Jonathan Pelham, who placed 10th with a time of 17:06, Adrian Wyatt was 20th at 17:23, Ellie Doerr finished 18th for the girls with a time of 21:49, and Emilia Arthur was 27th with a time of 23:06.
Troup High runners also competed in the event with no athletes advancing to the state meet, but with several achieving personal bests as the team concluded its season.
Parker Hancock had a personal-best time of 18:31.51 to finish in 34th place.
Teammates Colby Scott finished at 19:18, and Drew Duram and Hunter Blocker completed the 3.1 mile course in 19:51 and 20:11, respectively.
All three times were personal bests.
Troup runner Cody Strickland, who has been a mainstay near the top of the leaderboard for the Tigers most of the season, finished in 51st place with a time of 20:35.
His best time this season was 18:42.
Anderson said Strickland fell and twisted a knee during an earlier meet and was forced to stop training while he healed up, thus affecting his personal outcome in the region meet.
On the girls’ side, Troup’s Kenna Doggett placed 44th with a time of 27:17.90 followed by teammates Delsi Virden and Serena Reeves with times of 27:36 and 27:39, respectively.
“We made a lot of progress,” Troup coach Pete Anderson said about the season. “I’m really pleased. I’ve got some young runners and guys that ended their career on a positive note as far as their season goes. I felt like this team grew a whole lot during the season, but we may not have shown it in the win and losses column.”
Anderson also said he was impressed with LaGrange.
“I have to give credit to LaGrange,” Anderson said. “(Wilson) really had them running quick. They ran well.”
Callaway runners will compete in the Region 4-AAA meet on Saturday in Douglas County.