CARROLLTON, Ga. - The Heritage High School girls' cross country team and coach Jeremy Wynne expected to claim a Georgia Class AAAA state title Saturday, much like the one they earned in AAA last season.
The Lady Generals ran their best race of the 2012 season Saturday. It still wasn't enough.
Marist finished with 46 points, 20 better than runner-up Heritage, for the team title at Carrollton High School. The Marist boys gave the school a clean sweep in AAAA.
"We expected to beat them," Wynne said, adding that his girls had already talked about the design of their state championship rings. "We knew they were tough and it was going to be a tough race. They have some talented girls, but our girls are good, too. They showed so much heart and ran their best race today. The times don't reflect that, but it's a tough race and they laid it on the line.
"I'm prouder of us getting second in Class 4A than winning 3A, and I'm honored to be their coach."
Heritage freshman Sarah Buckler led three Lady Generals in the top 11, taking fourth in 20:09.44 for the five kilometers.
"I just wanted to get in the top 10 as a freshman, so being in the top four is amazing," Buckler said. "It was pretty hectic on the starting line, but it was fun and nerve-racking. The hills were a little big.
"I'd eventually like to be a state champion, but that's a goal for later on."
In the Class AA race, Chattooga's Damien Porter finished second and the Murray County boys were seventh.
Northwest Whitfield had a pair of solid runs in AAAA, taking seventh in the girls' race and 12th in the boys'. Dalton, which won the Region 7-AAAA meet, finished 15th.
"Dalton has kicked our butt every single meet, so I'm tickled by the way we ran, but we were so close to finishing in the top 10," Northwest coach Tom Sell said. "I'm stoked, but I still have to think about what might have been."
n Led by Karla Vradenburgh's second-place finish, the Chattanooga-area home school runners won the National Association of Christian Athletics championship. They finished with 37 points, 11 fewer than the second-place Hattiesburg (Miss.) home schoolers. Vradenburgh ran a time of 20:08.90, 16 seconds behind the Spartan Running Club's Danielle Cobb.
The area home school team had four top-10 finishes. The boys' team finished second behind Hattiesburg, and Soddy-Daisy's Joe Kirk was the individual champion, running unattached in a time of 17:13.57.