Nearly 200 middle and high school runners gathered at Council Farms for the third annual Braves Cross Country Invitational Saturday.
The event is hosted each year by Baldwin High School at the cross country course located just across the Baldwin-Wilkinson County line.
The high school girls took to the course first, and to no one’s surprise John Milledge Academy senior Emery Ryan came away as the individual winner by a wide margin. She crossed the finish line at 21:31.79, more than 30 seconds faster than her next closest competition in the field of 34. The win marked Ryan’s second of this season, a total that would likely be higher had she not been battling an injury. Baldwin freshman Ja’Myah Cummings and junior Ashley Johnson took ninth and 10th in the race respectively to lead the Bravettes to a second-place finish as a team, just seven points behind George Walton Academy for the top prize.
The varsity boys race was up next, and schools from the Athens area dominated the competition. The highest local finisher was Baldwin freshman Brandon Green who ran a 19:13.23, good enough for seventh. Putnam County junior Jacob Little finished 13th at 20:05.01, and John Milledge sophomore Marcus Prestwood took 16th overall at 20:17.82. Neither of the two local teams competing finished in the top three in the team standings.
The middle school race featured the biggest field of the day since it was a mixed run. More than 80 middle schoolers ran the two-mile course at once, but results were split. Oak Hill Middle School took second among middle school girls’ teams while the boys finished third. Oak Hill eighth-grader Jasmine Williams continued her hot streak this season by winning the girls race with a 13:52.92, edging out the runner-up by only about six seconds. Her performance propelled the young Bravettes to the team runner-up placement. JMA seventh-grader Lily Ryan, younger sister to Emery, finished third in the girls race at 14:31.17.
On the boys’ side, the Oak Hill Braves were led by eighth-graders Amir Gilmore and Travis Hill who finished one behind the other at third (12:48.83) and fourth (13:07.36) respectively. GMC Prep’s Julian Council also grabbed a top-10 finish as he placed sixth at 13:24.08. John Milledge’s top finisher in the boys race was Jackson Petty who took 14th.
The Baldwin cross country teams will enjoy a break in competition to go along with their fall break this week. The Braves and Bravettes are scheduled to return to the course Thursday, Oct. 17 for the running of the Baldwin County Cross Country Championships to be held at Walter B. Williams Park. John Milledge is set to travel to Mount de Sales in Macon Wednesday before next week’s county championship.