Walton won the boys title with 63 points, followed by Etowah (68), Milton (70), and Wheeler (77).
The Walton girls also prevailed with 32 points, followed by Milton (68), and Roswell (83) and Etowah (115).
Etowah coach Jesse Howard was quick to express pride in his teams’ performances.
“All year, we have heard how deep this region is, how it’s one of the toughest in the state,” Howard said. “We wanted to come out (Saturday) and show that we could compete with the Miltons and the Roswells of the world, and we did.”
Though Howard expected his boys team to finish inside of the top four, he could barely contain his excitement after the final results for the girls race was read.
“To make state is great. It’s absolutely wonderful, especially when you thought that it would take more than a miracle to make it,” Howard said of the Lady Eagles. “Our girls did what they had to do. They ran to the absolute end of the race. If one Lassiter girl beats one of our girls, it’s over. This race came down to tenths of seconds. They took care of business.”
While Woodstock fell well behind the top four teams in the boys standings, it still advanced two individual runners that finished within the top six to clinch at-large berths to the state meet.
J.C. Cornett was fourth in 16 minutes, 0.61 seconds, with Owen Bailey sixth at 16:08.27.
“J.C. was throwing up last night, but he came (Saturday) morning and told me that, no matter what, he was getting in the top six, and he did,” Woodstock coach Kirk Scharich said. “Owen has been solid all year — he set his personal record (Saturday). Last year, he hadn’t even broken 17 minutes, so he has come a long way.”
Cornett, a senior, will end his high school career without failing to qualify for the state championships.
“My whole goal was to make it to state, and I did that,” he said. “I’ve been sick the past couple of days, so I’m really excited that I ran well. I’m definitely pumped to be heading to state for the fourth time.”
Though Etowah did not have a top-10 finisher on the day, five of its seven boys runners finished inside the top 16 — Michael Perona (11th, 16:44.83), Justin Brown (12th, 16:51.54), Blake Beavers (14th, 16:52.26), Sam Donley (15th, 16:52.75) and Brian Matthews (16th, 16:55.41).
Leading the Etowah girls were Shelby Rensel (12th, 19:52. 54), Kyla Resnick (16th, 19:59.94), Kingsley Green (17th, 20:03.74), Julia Turbyfield (33rd, 21:11.63), Schyler Folsom (37th, 21:23.81).
As for Woodstock’s girls team, it was forced to race without county champion Alexandra Melehan, who strained her hamstring earlier in the week, and Catherine Moreau, who suffered a broken arm.
The Lady Wolverines fell to a sixth-place finish, only four points behind Etowah and the final team berth for state.
“Alexandra has been out the last week due to her hamstring, so that hurt us, and Moreau, who was our fifth girl, fell and broke her arm Tuesday,” Scharich said. “Still, we were hoping to get through and make a good showing at state. That’s why you’ve got to have depth.”
Morgan O’Toole was the top finisher for the Lady Wolverines with a 10th-place time of 19:46.08, followed by Keaton Wallace (19th, 20:04.60), Rachel Steppe (29th, 20:52.28), Taylor Poole (30th, 21:03.08), Makensie Block (31st, 21:05.47).
Cherokee struggled, with its girls seventh and boys eighth.
Caitlyn Farrell (21st, 20:13.17) led the girls team, with Sam Harp (27th, 17:21.64) pacing the boys.