GUYTON — South Effingham’s boys cross country team took fourth place in the Class AAAAA meet last weekend in Carrolton.
Two hundred and twenty athletes packed the course and, even with a stacked field, the Mustangs saw two runners, Hans Ames and Trent Bailey, finish 18th and 19th in the individual competition.
Aiden Anderson, Sam Williams and Bradley Fitzpatrick rounded out the top five South Effingham finishers.
“The boys knew what they had to do but I really did not think they knew they would actually finish fourth,” Mustangs coach Laura Soles. “Last year, Mr. (Craig) Owens and I went to awards for Hans Ames at the state meet (where) he placed seventh. I stated, ‘I would love to have a team on the podium,’ and Craig Owens said, ‘He could do it.’ I took it as a challenge.
“The team started in May and Mr. Owens knew our guys could place top five but he wanted to place higher. He predicted the girls would be top 10.”
Starrs Mill took first place,. McIntosh and Decatur finished second and third, respectively.
“We knew Starrs Mill and Mcintosh were going to be tough,” Soles said. “Decatur was strong but our guys pushed themselves. Hans did not run as well as he did last year but the other guys did their job.”
The Mustangs faced a little adversity when they were prohibited from practicing on the course the day before due to weather conditions. Soles was thankful the team already had a taste of what the course would present, and the pretrial run paid off.
“Five of the seven boys ran the course faster than they did in September,” Soles said. “Six of the seven girls ran it faster.”
And the Lady Mustangs had a stellar day, coming in twelfth place.
“The girls are so dedicated so I knew they would do their best,” Soles said. “The girls team has four of the seven runners that are freshmen. Meghan Kilpatrick was the only returning state runner so they had no idea what to expect. This year was a building year for my girls team and they overcame all of my expectations.”