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Central boys cross country makes history
Bulldogs finish fourth at region meet, qualify for first-ever state meet
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Forsyth Centrals boys cross country team celebrates at region Saturday after qualifying for the Class AAAAA meet. - photo by For the Forsyth County News

There was nothing crazy in store for Forsyth Central’s boys cross country team after it clinched a spot in the state championship meet for the first time in school history.

Part of the Bulldogs’ formula for success all season had been nutritional regulation. So when Central finished fourth at the Region 7-AAAAA meet Saturday at Boling Park in Canton, the Bulldogs’ abandoned their disciplined diet and went to a local IHOP.

Exhausted from edging Kell, Central had little energy to indulge its appetite. Will Scott, the team’s lone senior, ate just three pancakes.

"But they were in a lake of maple syrup," Scott said.

Central qualified for its first-ever state meet thanks to an impressive all-around performance. Kell’s Logan Poteet won the race in 15 minutes 48 seconds, and the Longhorns got another top 10 finish from Tejas Kapadia (16:55.34), but they had just one other runner in the top 30. Central had four, and its fifth, Will Hasse, finished 31st.

Max Warner led the Bulldogs with a fourth place finish in 16:23.93. Scott came in 14th in 17:12.29, Charlie Webb was 26th in 17:35.92, Cole Gizelbach was 27th in 17:36.40 and Hasse ran 17:42.47 for his 31st-place finish.

Central amassed 102 team points to finish behind Northview (52), Sequoyah (62) and Pope (94), but it was enough to finish ahead of Kell (138) and region contender Creekview (140).

"It was awesome," Central co-coach Greg Parker said. "The kids were excited. The parents were excited. We talked about making history. They worked toward the goal and made it. … These guys laid it on the line. They did everything we asked of them."

It was the zenith of Central’s remarkable transformation. Three years ago, Scott’s freshman season, Bulldogs runners took seven of the last eight places at the region meet. Scott’s personal record was just over 20:00.

Parker soon took over as coach, former Peachtree Ridge coach Shannon Hays joined the program this season and an influx of young talent, led by Warner, joined the team.

Now, Scott’s time of 17:12 was a new personal record, and the Bulldogs get to run Carrollton’s course for the second time this season – this time in the Class AAAAA championship.

"It was pretty amazing," Scott said. "We’ve improved a lot. Really, it’s more of an intense sport now."

Central’s girls team missed out on the state meet with a last-place finish despite a strong run from sophomore Bonnie McKinnon, who finished 15th in 20:21.10.