Last Monday, St.. John Catholic School’s girls won the GISA state cross country championship, while the boys took second at the state meet, held at the Georgia Industrial Children’s Home facility, which has been the host site for many years. St.. John’s Doyle Wallace was the boys’ individual state champion.

In the boys’ race, which had nearly 200 competitors from 28 teams in the combined AA/AAA classification, Wallace, an eighth grader at St.. John, raced the 1.6-mile distance faster than anyone else that day, and was crowned the individual champion of the GISA Middle School division. Wallace’s time of 8:59.35 was an average of 5:37 per mile, and he won by a scant two seconds in an exciting race.

The team competition was also exciting. Wallace, along with his brother Austin, who finished fifth (9:22.4) and teammates Craig Smoot (31st, 10:13.9), Sam Alexander (33rd, 10:16.3) and Austin Mizaur (48th, 10:44.4) combined for a total of 106 points to place second overall in the team competition. Colin Kirkpatrick finished 50th (10:47.2), Chris Hanson was 71st (11:19.0), Dillion Hernandez was 86th (11:47.3), Joshua Hanson was 105th (12:20.2), Evan Culligan was 114th (12:32.4), Robbie Powell took 119th (12:42.3), Adam Murphy was 130th (13:02.0), Tristan Williams was 164th (14:42.9) and Josh Farmer finished 168th (15:46.4). Together, these young men trained well and worked hard to earn their second place finish in the state meet. The future looks good for this team to carry on a tradition of earning high positions in all the meets they enter.

Shortly after the boys finished, the girls’ race started, with 30 teams represented by 174 runners. St.. John’s top finisher was Mary Alice Smoot, who placed 11th overall in a time of 10:25.2, an average of just under 6:31 per mile. Finishing close together is very important in cross country and the top five girls of St.. John all finished within 45 seconds of each other – that is phenomenal in the depth of this young team. Those finishes earned the St.. John girls 74 points, which earned them the GISA girls middle school team championship.

Ashley Powell was the second-fastest St.. John girl, placing 13th with a time of 10:44.1. Kirsten Kielma finished 15th (10:53.8), Alison Peters was 19th (11:06.4) and Samantha Kielma took 21st (11:10.8).

Also, 10 more girls ran fabulous races to help the depth of the team. Karina Agudelo (68th, 12:07.8), Miranda Mizaur (71st, 12:11.8), Erika Jensen (75th, 12:18.9), Josie Mazurkiewiecz (76th, 12:19.6), Andrea Ostapski (80th, 12:28.1), Madalyn Wallace (119th, 13:27.4), Haley Williams (120th, 13:29.0), Emily Williams (143rd, 13:52.3), Morgan Washburn (162nd, 14:48.2) and Izzy Mazurkiewiecz (163rd, 14:53.5) all contributed to the team through out the season. Considering that none of the top five finishers are eighth graders, the future looks tremendous for this team to place very well again next year and many years to come.

Therefore, TitleTown USA has two new contributors to the long list of champions in Valdosta. The St. John girls team is the first middle school and second-ever state championship cross country team from this area. The Valwood boys varsity team was the GISA state champions in 2003. Doyle Wallace is the first individual cross country champion that I can find at the middle school or high school level from the area. These are just two more reasons why Valdosta has earned the nickname TitleTown USA.

Members of the winning girls’ team and second place boys team will be interviewed Tuesday evening on Talk 92.1 FM during the Get Active Show from 6-7 p.m. Listen in to find out more about this successful program. Call in with your questions on how to start a program in your school.

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The VSU’s men’s and women’s cross country programs travel to Searcy, Ark. to compete in the Division II NCAA South Region cross country championship to be held on Nov. 8. The women race a 6K and the men a 10K. I hope to have results in the paper next week – if I get back in time.

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More information about events in the surrounding area of South Georgia include:

Nov. 8 – The VSU Student Rec Center presents its annual 10K Turkey Trot. Applications are now available at Get Active.

Nov. 15 – The 5K Turkey Trot presented at Valdosta Middle School is a road race that supports the Special Olympics and the Azalea Cheerleading Extreme competitive cheerleading teams. Applications are available.

Dec. 6 – The Women’s Junior Service League presents the third annual Jingle Bell Classic 15K and more. Put this family event on your calendar today.

When you participate in an event where A Course/Line, LLC is the timing group, you can bring your race number to Get Active – Running and More on that Saturday or Sunday and receive 10 percent off purchases of in-stock items regularly priced. The 10 percent discount is not to be combined with any other offer, discount or coupons.

If you have questions about your walking, running or other training, drop me an e-mail and I will do my level best to answer your questions. Check out www.getactivevaldosta.com to get connected. Become a member of the GetActiveSouthGeorgia yahoo group with over 100 other people. Listen to the Get Active South Georgia radio program on Tuesday evenings from 6-7 p.m. on Talk 92.1 FM to receive additional information or to ask questions.

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