MILLEDGEVILLE — Proving they’re one of the best teams in the state, Georgia Military Prep School won its second straight Georgia High School Association Class A Public School Boys State title in cross country on Saturday in Carrollton.
For the Bulldogs, the state championship was the conclusion of a season-long journey to repeat as winners in their respective division.
“We went in last year hoping for a win, but I don’t think they really knew if it could happen,” Stacie Stevenson, head coach, said. “This year that was the goal, and they took it from day one. I just know how bad they wanted it.”
GMC earned the title out of 15 teams with 39 points (lowest score wins in cross country) over second place Jenkins County with 76, and third place Commerce with 112 points on the day.
According to Stevenson, the team traveled to Carrollton Friday afternoon to preview the course, then spent all day Saturday relaxing before running the race of their lives.
“They were great. We hung out at the hotel, but they all had a mission,” she said. “They just all ran the race that they needed to run. We were thrilled.”
The Bulldogs were led by senior Will Archer as he placed second overall in the individual battle with a time of 17:48 on the hilly 5-kilometer course in Carrollton, only nine seconds away from race winner Dylan Smith of Gordon Lee.
“The last hill right before the finish, the guy got him there and I knew Will wasn’t going to get him back, but he ran a great race,” Stevenson said. “He wanted first really bad, but I don’t think Will was disappointed at all.”
Tom Drew and Ethan Spires both continued to run as the team’s two and three scorers, with Drew finishing fourth in 18:54 and Spires in seventh with a time of 19:09.
Finishing a close fourth man for GMC was Chase Sheffield in eighth place, running 19:18 on the tough course.
Rounding out the scoring for the Bulldogs was Zach Spiler in 19th overall with a time of 20:05, followed by Logan Kelleher in 31st in a time of 20:51 and Andrew Weimer who finished 36th with a time of 21:28.
Stevenson credits much of the success to community coach Jeff Crain, who trains the GMC boys cross country team.
The proud head coach believes it’s Crain who has instilled the focus and discipline it takes to be back-to-back state champions.
“Besides being a good coach, he’s just such a good role model for them,” Stevenson said. “It’s priceless.”
As if the state championship was not enough, the young Bulldog cross country team had the opportunity to watch other state races on Saturday to gain knowledge and experience for the future.
“It was so much different, especially since we were there at noon so they could see some of the bigger races,” Stevenson said. “We still have a pretty young team. It’s exciting and it’s just so good for the program.”