The cross country course at Georgia Highlands College is scenic and mostly flat, with a large part along the shores of Paris Lake. And on Saturday, it gave many Rome area varsity runners a boost for the final month of the season.
Several competitors ran their personal best at the annual Rome All-Area Championships on the Floyd campus of Georgia Highlands as cooler temperatures greeted teams for the morning races.
Rome High senior Nora Bailey continued her standout season by winning the varsity girls’ 5K with a time of 20 minutes, 4 seconds — 16 seconds off her personal record.
“I was really happy,” Bailey said. “I don’t think this is too much of a PR course, but I’m just moving ahead and trying to break the 20-minute threshold.”
The Lady Wolves and the Rome boys each finished first in the overall team standings to complete a successful meet for the Class 5A school. Rome’s Patrick Motes came in second behind Calhoun’s Felipe Barrios in the boys’ 5K after getting some separation from Model’s Simon Schabort, who finished third.
“It was a very good race. I have a lot of respect for both of those guys,” Motes said. “I’ve lost to Simon twice this season, so I was definitely looking forward to coming out against him for the final time this year. I’ve raced Felipe before and I had beaten him, but I knew he was a good runner and he was on my radar.”
Barrios won with a time of 16:43, while Motes finished in 16:55 and Schabort clocked in at 17:05 on a day when the temperature failed to reach 90 degrees for the first time in 11 days.
Bailey led a trio of Rome girls to the front of the pack in the girls’ race as Ashley Morales came in second at 21:16 and Kaitlyn Stahl was third at 21:25. The Lady Wolves won with a score of 32, Calhoun was second with 50 points and Paulding County was third with 82.
“Some of our varsity runners were out today, so we kind of had to piece together a team that does not always run varsity together, but I think our dynamic was still pretty great,” Bailey said. “So I’m proud of the fact that we got to finish 1-2-3, because two and three can push each other and we all can learn to push one another.”
Model’s Jessie Schroeder finished fourth with a time of 21:33 for the highest Class AA runner, giving the sophomore a sub 22 time at a meet for the first time.
“I had like a 40-second PR and I broke 22, which I’ve been wanting to do all season,” Schroeder said. “It was a fast course but, by far, it was my favorite run of the season so far. I’ve trained pretty hard. I never trained as hard for a season as I did this one and it’s the best season I’ve had so far.”
Rome’s Trace Harris (17:12) and Gary Jones (17:22) finished fourth and fifth respectively to give the Wolves three of the top five finishers in the boys’ race and give the team first in the team standings with 32 points.
Armuchee was next with 95 points and Model came in third with 144. Coosa’s Josh Martinez was sixth overall with a time of 17:37.
Motes, a junior, had made it a goal to get a time under 17 minutes this season and did so at the Run at the Rock at Woodland High School on Sept. 7. But after finishing third at the City-County Championships on Sept. 19, Motes said he took some time to reset mentally during the two weeks since.
“I just wanted to come out and run my own race today. Because I learned from my last race that when I think about other people’s races or get caught up in who’s there and who’s not I end up running a poor race,” Motes said. “Today I tried to come in with a clear mind, because I know that I can compete with everybody here.”
The teams from the four Floyd County high schools will meet back at Georgia Highlands on Oct. 15 for the Floyd County Championships.