Roswell XC Kicking Grass as Season Opens

Tara Goff, Graphics Co-captain

The varsity girls getting ready to toe the line just before the gun goes off. They are given a pep talk from their coach to be reminded of the training they put in leading up to this moment. (Credit: Ainsley Gillespie, 12th)

After last year’s lack of normalcy, the cross-country team was able to return to their usual 7 a.m. practices and weekly running camp in Tennessee this past summer, therefore increasing their training in regard to both speed and distance. Racing into the fall 2021 season, both the boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams have represented their hard work with impressive leads in their first few races.  

In the beginning of the school year, Georgia MileSplit posted GHSA’s Top 500 Georgia Cross Country Returners per grade, with sophomore Christian Jimenez ranking #37 and seniors Lynley Blocker and Tara Goff ranking #35 and #39, respectively. However, new runners are pulling their weight; Claire Hartigan, sophomore, and Elizabeth Stamey, freshman, were ranked #7 and #13, respectively, in the state for girls after just two meets. While Hartigan ran on the distance team during last year’s track season, cross-country will be Stamey’s first high school team, though she is no stranger to competition. She says, “My first race was the Possum Trot 1-miler when I was 3, my first 5k was a Color Run at 7, and my first 10k was another Color Run when I was 9.” Jimenez was included in the boys’ list as #9, as was returning runner Thomas Rhodes, junior, at #14.  

The team’s first race, the Hoya 2-Mile Invitational, was treated as a time trial to determine rankings and varsity positions. The following week, the team traveled to West Douglas County for the Zack Wansley Invitational, where the varsity girls placed second overall, with Hartigan coming in seventh place and Stamey coming in ninth place. Both girls mentioned how they raced personal records on this course, though Stamey hopes to drop her time by 14 seconds to 19:30 by the end of the season. The varsity boys brought home a first place trophy, with Jimenez coming in second place and Rhodes coming in ninth place. JV girls also won first place, led by Claire Mulkey, senior, in third, Grace Claerbout, junior, in sixth, and Elise Mulkey, sophomore, in eighth. JV boys’ first place win came from six of the top ten places being from Roswell.  

The varsity boys starting their race with the team’s traditional chant, getting themselves excited and ready to run. Led by Christian Cartier, senior, the boys show competitors what it is like to have Hornet Pride. Credit: Ilka Moreno, 11th)

Carrying the successes into the next week, the team brought home lots of hardware from the North Georgia Championship, which is held in Jefferson. Top finishers in the Boys Championship included Rhodes in sixth and Jimenez in seventh, leading the boys to a victory. On the girls’ side, Stamey led the team to victory by winning first place, saying she prepared by eating a banana and a bar for breakfast and “drinking pickle juice thirty minutes to an hour before the race to help with cramps.” Stamey was followed by Hartigan in second, Goff in fourth, and Mallory Holbert, sophomore, in eighth.  

Most recently, the team traveled to Carrollton, where the state meet is typically held. Coaches chose this meet as they felt it would be good preparation for the state race in November. Despite the course’s infamous rolling hills and the sun beating down at 11:30 a.m., Claire Mulkey and Claerbout led the team’s victory by coming in places 1 and 2, respectively. Claerbout, who is new to the team, mentioned that she prepared for the race by stretching and going easier on runs leading up to the day of the race. Still, she said “The hardest part was the last hill, because I felt like I had no energy.” To combat this, she plans on getting more sleep and eating healthier throughout the week. Elise Mulkey was also a top finisher in the JV race, as was Mariana Ornelas, senior, who came in sixth. Six of Roswell’s JV boys swept spots in the top-10, just as they had a few weeks prior.  

If the teams continue to keep up this pace, they will be seen at the state course in Carrollton for the second year in a row. As Claerbout said, “keeping a positive attitude on race day rather than stressing” will only help further this goal. Click here to read up on the girls’ experience preparing for the race last year.