Boys’ and Girls’ XC clinch State Titles

On Nov. 4, both the boys’ and girls’ cross country teams raced to victory, winning two state championships. The two wins give the Wildcats a combined 54 cross country state championships; a total more than any other school in Georgia. While the dominant girls’ team have won four consecutive championships, this marks the first win for the boys’ team since 2013. In past seasons, the boys have narrowly missed the elusive state title, placing third in the 2014 and 2015 seasons and second in 2016, making this year’s victory that much sweeter in the eyes of Coach Joe Tribble and his team.

The boys had been preparing all season for the Nov. 4 race, and the hard-earned victory means a lot to the runners. From after school practice to weekend morning workouts, the boys never stopped working in order to bring home the state title.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said sophomore runner Zachary Roe. “We all worked hard, so I was really glad when we got that W.” The fact that the average time of each runner at the end of the season was 50 seconds faster than their time at the start of the season is a testament to the tremendous effort that each and every one of the boys put forth.

All seven boys placed in the top 30 in the state championship race, combining for a time of 1:26:48.24, which was two minutes faster than the closest competitor (Dawson County). In addition, junior Will Wallace placed second in the state with a 5K time of 16:32.66 with junior Peter Huff and sophomore Zachary Roe not far behind, placing 6th and 7th respectively. Junior William Foshee and sophomores Scott Arbery, Sam Blau, and JD Blitch secured the win with times less than two minutes back from the first-place finisher.

The boys’ cross country team has won 24 state championships since Tribble began coaching for Westminster back in 1984. However, after a recent dry spell, this year’s championship is a return to form.

“Tribble hasn’t had a state victory in a while,” said senior Jack Stone. “I know he’s been close in previous years, but finally getting the win has him in good spirits.”

During the season, Tribble pushed the boys team to run beyond the pain and to train harder than all of their competition. This intense preparation was matched only by the girls’ team, who marched to their 30th state championship and their ninth in the last ten years.

At the state championship, the girls’ combined time of 1:42:35.71 was a whole six minutes faster than their nearest competitor (Lovett). Junior Naima Turbes and seniors Delaney Graham and Bronte Bacchetta swept second, third, and fourth place, and were backed up by their teammates junior Victoria Flowers and sophomores Hadley McClatchey, Olivia Tordella, and Katherine Vuckovic.

The girls’ team is led by Coach Amy Eubanks, who has been head coach at Westminster for 27 years, capturing 22 state championships along the way. Eubanks coaches her runners with a high level of intensity that has enabled them to rack up an unbelievable number of championship victories. In addition to her many trophies, Eubanks was recognized for her dedication to her student-athletes and the team’s incredible record by being named Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2016 by the NHSCA (National High School Coaches Association).

Both of these victories mean a great deal, especially to the seniors on the team. Even though no seniors ran on the boys’ state team, Graham and Bacchetta represented the class of 2018 placing third and fourth in the girls’ race. Both coaches enjoyed watching their teams race throughout the year, and watching the seniors they have known for four years take home the championship in their final season makes it that much better.

“It meant a lot, especially to Coach Eubanks. Our class has a really good relationship with her and she really wanted us to win as seniors,” said senior Betsy Blitch.

Even with the departure of the senior class, both teams have a lot to look forward to next year. The girls have a promising lineup of new talent and will seek a fifth consecutive state win, while the entirety of the boys’ state team will return next year — re-energized and ready to defend their state championship.