Cross Country By Brandon Bush

 The Putnam County boys team, from left, Carson Walker, Ke’Aundre Battle, Jaden Grimes, Dylan Lindsay, Brian Lopez, Zack Allen, William Maddox, Avery Jones, Micheal Coker, Thomas Daniel, Jacob, Little, Justin Wilson, and James Mead holding their second place trophy.

Council Farm in Milledgeville, Ga was the location of the JMA XC Invitational, in which many cross country teams competed. The meet was hosted by John Milledge Academy and many teams from across the state showed up to represent their schools. Both Gatewood and Putnam County High School traveled from Eatonton to take part in the meet. “Most all runners improved on their times from the same race held last year,” Gatewood coach Marty Phillips said, noting that his team performed well despite the farm being “a difficult course to run.” Carly Cannon of the middle school girls team placed 10th overall with a time of 16:20. Joining her was Mia Hudson with a time of 17:45 and Maggie Brown with 18:01. Jacob Gailey, James Johnson and Levi Collins of the middle school boys team also performed well. The varsity team also performed well; Jake Holloway finished with a time of 22:23, Jack Schneider recorded a time of 23:37, William Van de Planque finished with 27:43 and Gus Mendez ended with 28:24. Along with Gatewood, Putnam County High School also made the journey to Mlledgeville to compete in the meet. Putnam coach Andrew Grodecki said his team was “anxious to run” since they did not compete in the Brentwood meet due to school being cancelled during Hurricane Irma. The Eagles’ desire to run paid off as Putnam’s boys team brought home the 2nd place trophy. Avery Jones and Zack Allen finished 7th and 8th place respectively, earning individual medals for placing in the top ten. Thomas Daniel finished just outside the top ten with a 20:02 while Dylan Lindsey, who ran for the first time since sustaining an injury, recorded a personal best of 20:22 for 13th place. Putnam’s girls team had a bit of a struggle, running without their full team. Samantha Wilkins, Destiny Beltman and Shelby Herring finished 21st, 22nd and 23rd respectively. “The girls were really disappointed in their performances,” Grodecki said. “I think they will come back next week at Bleckley County and improve on those times.” Though some did not find the location ideal for running, JMA coach Bo Kilby enjoyed using the area. “The course is beautiful,” Kilby said. “It is a nice, flat course to run on that can produce good times.” Emery Ryan secured the 2nd place spot overall for varsity girls with a time of 21:58. Ryan has placed in the top five in all of JMA’s meets thus far, with Kilby commented that she “has a great work ethic in practice” and is willing to put the work in. Kilby also noted that Hannah Reece, who finished 26:55, has been consistently improving and also believes Olivia Salter, Julia Clements, and Holley Youngblood will be finishing under 30 minutes by the end of the season. Jaskaran Brar finished 3rd overall for the varsity boys with a time of 18:18, followed by Parker Blenk at 14th with 20:25, Redt Dunn in 16th with 20:40, Jackson Roberts at 30th with 22:24 and Logan Crosby at 43rd with 23:39. Gatewood will travel to Watkinsville for their next meet at Wesminster on Oct. 2 while Putnam County will head to Bleckley County in Cochran on Thursday. Meanwhile, JMA will attend their next meet on Thursday, which is hosted in Milledgeville by Georgia Military College.

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