Lumpkin girls XC finishes with strong showing at State

  • Lumpkin girls XC finishes with strong showing at State
    Lumpkin girls XC finishes with strong showing at State

After a season of strong performances from the LCHS varsity girls cross country team, the Lady Indians finished their season at the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) State Cross Country Championships Saturday with a 16th place finish among 26 teams.
“We were hoping for a top 10 finish and it just didn’t happen,” head coach Nicky Jenkins said of the result. “The racecourse was fast and the times were low.”
Despite the finish not being quite as high as anticipated, overall Jenkins is proud of his team’s performance in 2019.
“We have had a great season,” Jenkins said. “We won the Gilmer County and our home invitationals. We finished 3rd in Union County and 2nd in Riverside. Injuries and sickness slowed us down at the end of the season but our ladies fought through it.”
Leading the charge for the Lady Indians on Saturday was junior Caroline Rairigh, who finished the 5K course with a time of 23:13, good enough for 50th place out of 182 runners. Rairigh is a prime example of how the Lady Indians had to fight through injury for a strong finish.
“Caroline Rairigh was our fastest runner,” Jenkins said. “She ran a great race coming off an ankle injury.”
The Lady Indians were able to get four of their seven runners in the top 100 and all five of the scoring runners placed in the top 110 of the 182 racers. Abbie Hilchie finished 56th with a time of 23:28, Kelly Cronan finished 95th with a time of 25:10, Emily Martinez finished 100th with a time of 25:29 and Tatum Coulter finished 109th with a time of 25:55 to round out Lumpkin’s scoring runners. Elvia Garcia and Tatianna Lovell finished in 113th and 151st respectively, with times of 26:15 and 29:04.
With the GHSA State Championships being the final race of the season for the Lady Indians, it marked the end of the high school cross country careers for several members of the team.
“We lose five seniors this year,” Jenkins said. “Three of them are in our top five. You can’t lose kids like this and it not affect your program. We have a number of kids back and it’s now their turn to step up.”
However, even with such a significant loss, the future still looks bright for the LCHS varsity girls cross country team with younger members of the team making solid strides of progression throughout the season, according to Jenkins.
“Kelly Cronan and Tatum Coulter have been right on the verge of breaking into the top five all year,” Jenkins said. “Now it’s their turn. And of course our top two runners, Abbie Hilchie and Caroline Rairigh, will return next year.
While Rairigh was the top finisher at the state meet for Lumpkin, Hilchie also finished the season strong, leading the Lady Indians at the Region 7-AAA Championship Meet at Unicoi State Park on Oct. 23 as well as the 54th place finish at the State Championships that put her as Lumpkin’s second finisher.
Jenkins also mentioned a potential star in the making as a rising ninth grader next season.
“Ryann Jones will be a 9th grader and will make an immediate impact when she gets here,” he said. “She ran in several JV races for us once the middle school season was over and finished in the top five in all of them.”
Overall, while it may be the end of a strong season for the Lady Indians, it looks as though it could be just the beginning of something special.