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CROSS COUNTRY: Armuchee sweeps Region 7-AA meet

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Armuchee cleaned house at the region championships Tuesday at Georgia Highlands, with the Indians edging out Pepperell and the Lady Indians beating Rockmart. Armuchee dominated individually too, with junior Chaney Holder and freshman Chloe Purdy taking first in their respective races.

Armuchee, Rockmart, Coosa and Model qualified for state on the girls’ side, while Armuchee, Pepperell, Gordon Central and Rockmart qualified for the boys.

“We’ve talked about it the entire year. This was our expectation and we executed,” Armuchee coach Scott Pierce said. “Pepperell and Rockmart made it harder than we wanted, but we just counted on what we could do today.”

The varsity boys’ race was the closest both individually and in the team standings as the Indians beat the Dragons by two points. Armuchee getting its best five runners in the top 11 was just enough to hold off Pepperell’s efforts.

Pepperell’s Edwin Chavez stayed close with Holder all race and was leading early. It wasn’t until the final mile that the Armuchee junior could break away and go on to win the 5K with a time of 17:17, eight seconds ahead of Chavez.

While a concern, Holder appreciated the tight race. The constant battle helped improve his overall time and got both runners ready for what is to come at the state championships Nov. 4 in Carrollton.

“It’s nerve wracking, but it certainly helps you race better,” Holder said. “The whole race we were just back and forth until the end. I just felt good enough at the end to kick it up. Hopefully this continues over into state.”

The Armuchee girls’ team beat out Rockmart by five points, thanks mostly to its top four runners finishing in the top nine. After Purdy took first, juniors Blaine Fox and Kayla Hutcherson took fourth and fifth place while Anna Fitzpatrick took ninth.

Coming in at 21:15, it was not only Purdy’s best race all season, but also a new girl’s school record for Armuchee. Purdy said she was a little surprised to break the mark so early in her career.

“The first race I competed in this season, I was about 20 seconds off the school record,” Purdy said. “I just kept hoping and working to beat that time, and it’s exciting to see it happen.”

The state championship in Carrollton is still over two weeks away, leaving plenty of time for each runner and team to prepare. While he knows the competition is only going to get better, Pierce trusts his team can make a splash.

“We are excited and we have podium aspirations for state,” Pierce said. “Our first goal was to win region, our second one was to place as high as possible in state. We’re just excited to see how far we can go.”