The Lady Trojans finished in third place at the Region 5-AAAA Championships last Thursday at Clinton Farms, trailing state title contender Alexander, along with Columbus, in first and second place, respectively.
Carrollton runs in the second race of the day — with a 9:15 a.m. start — meaning it could feature some chilly conditions for the morning competitors.
The Lady Trojans have been led by junior Emily Adams and freshman Zavannah Brown this season, and the duo proved to provide the 1-2 punch at region, as well, last week.
Adams finished in 10th place in a time of 20 minutes and 55.93 seconds, while Brown was right on her heels in 12th (21:18.93). Rounding out the Lady Trojans’ top-five finishers from region were junior Crystal Ruiz in 14th (21:38.59), senior Nicole Wilson in 22nd (22:15.35) and junior Katie Cantrell in 25th (22:32.30).
“I expect those two to battle it out and be the top runner for the team. That creates some good, friendly competition between them,” Carrollton coach Mike Mason said of Adams and Brown.
“We’ve had two new girls this year — Crystal Ruiz and Nicole Wilson — both are first-year runners, but have come out and really done a spectacular job for us. Then Katie Cantrell, our No. 5 girl, she is coming off some mid-season injuries, but she’s still really running well. So I’m excited for them. It should be a good day.”
Marist and Alexander are expected to battle it out for the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, as far as the team title goes for the Class AAAA girls, with Morgan Ilse (18:13.16) leading a Marist contingent that all ran under 20 minutes at region. Alexander is paced by Brittany Truitt (19:00.16).
“I don’t know who will win it between them. It’ll be a good race. Both of them have got some really talented girls. Normally, if you’ve got one girl that can run in the 19s, you’re doing something. But both of them have got two or three girls that can do that. It’ll be very impressive to watch them race against each other,” Mason said.
The McIntosh boys in Class AAAAA should be the top overall team on hand Saturday, with the Chiefs featuring a pair of returning individual state champions in Brad Hort (15:13.57) and Sidney Speir (15:27.14). Meanwhile, Orlando Burgos of Heard County turned in the top time for the Class AA boys from region at 16:06.19 and will make his run for a AA crown in the 10 a.m. race Saturday.
“I’m telling you, the McIntosh boys are phenomenal. They’ve got one kid that won state for them last year who’s back and then they had another kid move in from Wisconsin that won a state championship up there. So you’ve got two guys like that battling it out? We could see two teammates running in the 15s. And they are competitive,” Mason said.
Of course, Mason’s No. 1 concern come Saturday is how his Lady Trojans perform, and he expects the group to be right there battling for a top-10 spot when all is said and done.
“I’m very, very pleased. We did a speed workout [Tuesday] night at the normal distance that we do. I just want to get their legs turning over and I’m very pleased with their performance [Tuesday]. I’m real excited about them and based on the [Georgia] MileSplit — based on the fastest times in the state — we’re No. 8,” Mason said. “That might be a little bit over us, but I would expect us to make a run at the top 10.”
As usual, Mason will have his all-star crew of workers — headlined by Meet Director and Trojan track and field coach Craig Musselwhite — on site to ensure that the production runs smoothly once again this year.
“Coach Musselwhite’s the man. He stays on top of it and has got a good group of volunteers that help out. You know, it’s a lot of fun for our kids that aren’t running to come out and paint the logos and help get ready and be a part of that. They get out here and work hard. But for Musselwhite to organize everything the way he does and coach [Pam] Lambert to help out getting everybody entered in the computer, it’s a massive, massive undertaking. Musselwhite and the guys that help him out do a fabulous job,” Mason said.