Several local cross country teams got together on Tuesday afternoon for a chance to gain some bragging rights against their Floyd County neighbors as well as get in a final tune-up before their respective region meets next week.

After the competitive festivities, it was Model’s Simon Schabort, Armuchee’s Marissa Kimple and both the Armuchee girls and boys teams that came away as big winners as they were able to race to the top of the individual and team standings at the County-City Championship Meet at Georgia Highlands College.

Kimple had a stellar performance as she out-paced everyone in the girls’ race to kick off the action with a first-place individual finish with a time of 19:54.26 ahead of Coosa’s Sophia Cook, who took second with a time of 20:06.29.

Kimple’s teammate Shelby Green finished third with a 21:04.74 as the duo led the Lady Indians to a first-place effort in the girls’ team standings with a score of 35. Also contributing to the team score was Sophie Thacker with a top-10 finish in seventh with a 23:34.60, and rounding out the Armuchee team efforts was Alejandra Aldana (11th, 25:06.63) and Peyton Alford (13th, 25:36.30).

"Marissa ran a good, strong late-season race on a slow course condition," said Armuchee head coach Scott Pierce. "Marissa and Shelby are both great runners and will make a big difference for us in the postseason."

In the boys’ race, much like he has at the previous meets this season, Model’s Schabort ran away from the pack as he finished first by more than a minute and a half with a time of 16:03.58.

"Simon is one of the most hard-working and dedicated runners I have had the privilege to watch," said Model head coach Paige Reece. "His time of 15:22 at Darlington was so impressive that he was surprised, I think. Simon is an amazing runner, but he is also just an amazing young man. He always has an encouraging word for others and is one of the first to congratulate other runners on a race."

A pair of Darlington runners came in second and third as Ryan Glass and Grant Cross ran times of 17:34.52 and 17:40.08, respectively, and Model’s Zach Mickler (fourth, 17:52.28) and Armuchee’s Landon England (fifth, 18:33.29) rounded out the top five.

It was the Indians who put together a solid five finishes as a team to take first in the team standings with 44 points as England was joined in the top-10 by teammates Matthew Campbell (seventh, 18:48.70), Sam Lindley (eighth, 18:53.03) and Trace Harris (10th, 19:15.86). Also contributing to the team score was Ethan Ayers (14th, 19:17.72). Jesse Hernandez also had a solid race with as he finished 14th (19:23.14).

Behind Schabort and Mickler for the Devils as they scored 47 to take second in the boys team standings was Owen Fincher (ninth, 18:59.68), Liam Marshall (16th, 19:27.83) and Eli Moon (17th, 19:43.36). Elijah Marshall was just behind for the Devils in 18th with a 19:48.55.

Darlington’s boys took third as a team as the top-five finishes by Glass and Cross were backed up by David Edwards (sixth, 18:34.51), Aiden Parsa (19th, 19:50.42) and Brock Ferguson (21st, 20:06.72).

Behind Kimple, Cook and Green in the girls top-five were Darlington’s Kate Scott (21:27.44) and Model’s Jesse Schroeder (22:49.26).

The Lady Tigers finished in second behind Armuchee in the team standings with a score of 55, and Model was close behind with a 57.

Darlington’s other contributing finishes came from Emilia Tscherne (sixth, 23:20.48), Chinelo Okafor (10th, 25:05.93), Elizabeth Allen (17th, 26:15.11) and Zoe Rahn (18th, 26:21.81).

”I think our teams ran well at the meet,” said Darlington head coach Brant Evans. “The girl’s team especially. Kate Scott led the way for the team and Chinelo Okafor set a new personal record. Overall, I think our girls are a stronger team than we were at this point last year. I’m looking forward to seeing how we do at region.

”Our boys were missing a couple of key contributors, but it opened up some opportunities for less experienced guys to step up. I thought they did a wonderful job filling in, knowing that they were being counted on. Our guys who we were accustomed to seeing in those top-five spots also ran well and gave us a shot to win yesterday.”

The Lady Devils had two other top-10 individual finishes behind Schroeder with Sydney Sutton who placed eighth (24:04.80) and Allie Calvert who took ninth (24:57.26).

Coosa and Pepperell rounded out the girls team standings in fourth and fifth, respectively, as the Lady Eagles’ top finishers behind Cook were Meadow Rose (12th, 25:34.68) and Neema Patel (14th, 25:42.99).

The Lady Dragons’ top individual performer was Olivia Edwards who placed 16th with a 25:58.47.

The Eagles and Dragons also completed the boys team standings in fourth and fifth, respectively. Coosa’s top two finishers were Ezra Guerrero (11th, 19:16.27) and Jesse Holcomb (13th, 19:17.11), and Pepperell’s top finisher was Christian Weatherby (12th, 19:16.65).

Model, Coosa and Pepperell will all next compete in the Region 7-AA Meet back at Georgia Highlands on Tuesday with the girls kicking things off at 4:30 p.m. and the boys to follow.

"The local City-County Meet is a great opportunity to get a feel for the Region course and allow runners to mentally and physically prepare for next week," said Reece. "We have an awesome cross country region from the coaches to the runners. It is such a great atmosphere of energy and encouragement at every race, and I am excited about the upcoming Region meet. We have discussed 'preparation' over the past several days with the Model Cross Country team. Being mentally and physically prepared is key to every race. This team has worked extremely hard this year, and they have truly bought into our program's motto of 'No Deposit, No Reward.' Their work over Fall Break was impressive, and I think their performance at the City-County Meet reflected it. Each team across the region has deposited many miles since June for the last two weeks of the season with focusing on the Region and State meet. I am excited and can not wait to see it pay off for them."

Armuchee will compete at the Region 6-A Public Meet on Tuesday, Oct. 26 at Georgia Highlands with the boys’ race starting at 1 p.m. and the girls to follow.

"This is a great end-of-season race where you have a top team from three different state classifications, which helps you evaluate your team and gives the athletes some strong competition," said Pierce.

Darlington will compete at the Region 7-A Private Meet at Harrison High School on Thursday, Oct. 28 starting at 10 a.m. with the boys’ race and the girls to follow.

”Our kids were the ones who really wanted another race before region,” said Evans. “They love to compete, and they enjoy running against these teams because they get a chance to run with so many of their friends. Our team is still very young so every chance we get to race before region and, hopefully, state is another opportunity to get better. Overall, we are just very thankful that these coaches put this race together and allowed us to join in. They did a great job of hosting a fun meet and celebrating the seniors on each team.”

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