By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
Rain stayed away from the Class AAAAAA Cross Country Championships in Carrollton on Saturday morning but there was no escaping frigid temperatures.
Temperatures in the low 40s provided just another obstacle for local runners on the already challenging hilly course.
“We tried to tell them no one (from Georgia) is accustomed to running in that cold air,” said South Effingham coach Laura Soles, portraying a level playing field.
But chilly weather conditions didn’t help most of the local runners in the 5-kilometer race. The boys race started at 8 a.m. with the girls following at 8:45.
The Mustangs boys, who placed second last season, were 12th this season among 28 teams.
The SEHS girls team and the Effingham County girls teams were 13th and 22nd respectively.
Mustangs senior Cailan Howard posted a time of 16:43.42 and finished 11th individually. Teammate Tyler Phillips ran a 16:45.46 and placed 13th.
ECHS’ Candace Kieffer was 18th with a time of 20:27.08 in the girls race.
Freshman Magdeline Morgan, who trimmed 2 ½ minutes off her time on the same course at the Carrollton Orthopaedic Invitational on Sept. 11, led SEHS’ girls with her personal-best time of 22:13.62 and a 63rd-place finish.
Here are the results of the top five local runners for their teams at state:
— For the SEHS boys: Cailan Howard (16:43.42, 11th), Tyler Phillips (16:45.42, 13th), Joey Burdick (17:49.67, 61st) Kristopher Gadsden (18:31.32, 106th) and Caiden Mason (19:06.79, 141st).
— For the SEHS girls: Magdeline Morgan (22:18.62, 63rd), Cheyenne Ryan (22:26.77, 72nd), Lily McDonald (22:28.62, 73rd), Melanie Ripley (22:38.12, 83rd) and Madison Lockhart (22:52.20, 93rd).
— For the ECHS girls: Candace Kieffer (20:27.08, 18th), Brooke Maseda (23:30.06, 116th), Shelby Hilton (24:07.50, 134th), Olivia Lott (24:56.90, 152nd) and Hope Harden (26:29.27, 166th).
While the high school cross country season came to an end with the state meets, some runners will have another chance to run at the Meet of Champions in Fayetteville (Ga.) on Saturday.