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South's Phillips places sixth at state meet
Tyler Phillips
Tyler Phillips - photo by Photo submitted

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

South Effingham runner Tyler Phillips said the field at the Class AAAAAA State Cross Country Championship on Saturday started slowly so he decided to pick up the pace.

“I took first to speed it up and that was the worst thing I could have done,” said Phillips, who fell behind shortly after his initial move but ended strongly with a time of 16:49.04 to place sixth in the five-kilometer meet in Carrollton, earning a medal and a spot on the podium for a top-10 finish.

Mustangs teammate Julian Howard, who was second to Phillips at the Region 2-AAAAAA Championships, placed 19th with a time of 17:29.73.

Levi Thomas, Effingham County High School’s lone runner at state, posted an 18:06.78 and finished 55th in the field of 224 boys.

South Effingham’s Lily McDonald, who had been injured for most of the season, had the area’s best time in the girls’ race with a 22:32.96 and finished 61st.

The Mustangs boys and girls qualified as teams by finishing among the top four teams at region. Thomas qualified without his team by finishing among the top six runners at the region meet.

SEHS boys and girls teams both finished 19th at state.

Phillips’ hope of being among the top three leaders heading into the final two kilometers before attacking never materialized, but he couldn’t complain too much about his sixth-place showing.

He rebounded from a stress fracture which kept him out of  spring track and was seeded 18th in the cross country state meet despite having a faster time than last season when he finished 13th.

As a freshman, Phillips placed fourth.

“This field was so much stronger with the additions of Marist and Roswell (to Class AAAAAA),” said Phillips, who plans to sit out the Meet of Champions in Fayetteville this Saturday, but will run the Twilight 3200M in Marietta on Nov.18.

Here are the finishes and times for South Effingham and Effingham County runners at the state meet:

— SEHS boys – Tyler Phillips (6th, 16:49.04), Julian Howard (19th, 17:29.73), Caiden Mason (94th, 18:51.44), Zane Bell (131st, 19:20.09), Domenic Harrison (175th, 20:16.90), Nathaniel West (190th, 21:00.15) and Cesar Martinez (209th, 21:57.03).

— ECHS boys – Levi Thomas (55th, 18:06.78).

— SEHS girls – Lily McDonald (61st, 22:32.96), Magdeline Morgan (69th, 22:45.31), Brianna Barber (129th, 24:39.12), Anna Katherine Raley (159th, 26:12.16), Katelyn Bittle (172nd, 27:59.04) and Christina Gibbons (178th, 28:39.19).