It was another solid season for the White County cross country program. Seventh year head coach Sam Borg has led the cross country efforts to new heights, which culminated in a 6th-place state finish for the boys and 5th for the girls.
While this is a killer season for any program, Borg and the girls especially were hoping for a bit more, as last season they finished 3rd overall at state. The boys placed 14th last season, so this represents a huge improvement and the best finish for them in school history.
Still, with junior Jaelen Alexander and others running with an illness, the girls didn’t finish as well as they had set the bar for themselves.
“Our girls are honestly a little disappointed,” states Borg. “I think we could have finished 3rd or 4th; we didn’t have our best day at state and had sicknesses…but the body of work over the course of the season, this is our best season we ever had — girls and boys — so I’m really proud of all of our kids.”
“Individually I did a lot better than last year,” says senior Rachel Gearing about her state performance. “But it definitely didn’t do our team justice on how great of a season we had altogether.”
“It negatively impacted my performance,” says Alexander of running with strep throat. “But it’s definitely pushed me to work harder next year and get out there and get top ten next year.”
The future is bright for both the girls (who finished third in the stacked region 7-AAAA) and the boys (4th in 7-AAAA). Both squads will bring back seven of their top eight runners next season.
Region 7-AAAA is arguably the toughest in the state of Georgia in cross country, with three of the top five finishing teams in the girls’ state meet all residing in that region: White County, Blessed Trinity and Marist. All were also in the state all-classification rankings during the season at some point. Borg added that while this can be annoying, it elevates the White County program, and the region meet is essentially a state meet preview.
“It requires us to push ourselves harder in meets, which requires us to push ourselves harder in practice, too,” says Alexander about running in the same region with Blessed Trinity and Marist. “I think it’s awesome that we have [them], because it’s making us faster and more competitive.”
With sites being set higher than ever, the boys and girls especially are looking forward to 2018 already.
“We all had a meeting [after the state meet cooldown] and already started to re-focus,” says Borg. “We started to think about — it’s good to be humbled in athletics and to stay hungry — the girls are going to be ready to train next summer, but we know we’ve got to wait a long time for redemption, but it’s something that’s already on our mind.”
The program continues to thrive under Borg, even with new runners coming in all the time.
“We just improve every year,” says Gearing. “We’re not comparing ourselves to 2A schools, we’re comparing ourselves to 7A schools. So to be top-10, all classification, it’s amazing.”