Carrollton High School hosted one of the biggest high school cross country events in the state of Georgia and in the nation on November 3-4, as the Georgia High School Association held their state championship meet.
Featured in the event were teams from all eight different school classifications in the state of Georgia. In total, there were 3,107 individual athletes that competed in the event on Friday and Saturday combined.
Highlighting performances for competitors in the Carroll County area was Bowdon High School freshman Averi Lowen, who won the girls’ state championship in Class A Division-Two.
Lowen led the race through each checkpoint, and although Atlanta Classical Academy’s Flora Tyler trailed closely behind after the first loop of the race, Lowen broke away on the second.
After rounding the final hill of the Carrollton course, which is well-known for its array of challenging hills, Lowen finished with a time of 20:10.03, exactly 34 seconds ahead of Tyler, who ended the race at 20:44.03.
The freshman Red Devil —who was also the only female running cross country for Bowdon this year —was working with a bit of extra motivation from the conclusion of her middle school career.
“I’ve worked so hard ever since last year —in eighth grade I got beat at state —so I’ve trained for this,” Lowen said. “It means a lot.”
It is a bit out of the ordinary for a freshman to beat out an entire field of state-level sophomores, juniors and seniors. When asked what she thinks sets herself apart from others her age, Lowen pointed to the work ethic she sets out to display.
“My hard work, the effort I put in every day outside of school,” Lowen said. “It’s just hard work.”
Lowen’s head coach Molly Harper says she thought the race was going to be close, but she knew Lowen would have a chance of walking away with the title.
“I knew it would be a close race, but Averi is one of the most dedicated runners I have ever seen in my life,” Harper said. “She came to us last year — she ran for me in eighth grade — so, I’ve never seen somebody work so hard in the offseason as Averi has.”
Harper also pointed out the work Lowen puts in outside of organized team practices.
“She has put so much effort and dedication into this sport,” Harper said.
And for Lowen, it ultimately comes down to one simple phrase, in Harper’s words, “She loves to run.”
As for her status as Bowdon’s only girl running cross country, Lowen says she doesn’t mind it, but she would like to have a team around her in the future.
“I kind of like training by myself, but I would love to have a team,” Lowen said.
As for the high school teams local to the city of Carrollton, Carrollton High School’s girls’ team placed ninth out of 32 teams in class 7A, with Emily Whipple leading the way in 40th with a time of 20:27.86. The Trojan boys placed sixth out of 32 teams with Hagan Russell getting 12th with a time of 16:06.74.
Central Carrollton High School’s girls’ team came in seventh out of 28 teams in class 4A, and two runners ended in the top ten, with Lorelei Daugherty finishing sixth at 19:40.03 and Lucy Barker finishing ninth at 19:46.75. The Central boys team finished 14th out of 31 teams, and Casey Thornton led the way in ninth at 16:42.73.
This event concluded the high school cross country season in the state of Georgia, and many runners will now prepare for track and field season, with the earliest date for practice scheduled for January 8 and meets beginning February 5.