ROSWELL — Some strong individual efforts have earned Lambert’s girls and both South Forsyth cross country squads a trip to the Class 6A state championship meet.
Lambert’s Leanne Zimmer took second (19:53.36) overall and teammate Katherine Aiken (20:44.15) earned fourth to lift the Lady Longhorns to third place at the Region 6-AAAAAA meet on Saturday at Garrard Landing Park, while both South squads reached state with fourth place finishes.
Savannah Carnahan (19:53.36) finished third for the Lady War Eagles, less than two-tenths of a second behind Zimmer, while the boys were led by sophomore Ryan Peppenhorst (17:19.27), who finished second behind region champion Mitchell Narro (17:14.75) of Alpharetta.
"I feel very glad to have [gotten second] and very happy to go to state," Peppenhorst said. "I’m just a little sad I didn’t get that first place guy at the end.
"When we got into the woods when it was more of the short and up and down hills, I started to fall back a little and just couldn’t pick up the ground to get him."
South’s boys (90 points) claimed the final spot in the state meet behind region champion Alpharetta (50), Centennial (63) and Johns Creek (75).
West Forsyth (126), Lambert (144) and North Forsyth (196) finished sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively, behind Chattahoochee (120) in fifth.
Centennial (53) edged out Johns Creek (55) for top honors in the girls race, followed by Lambert (80) and South 101, well ahead of Alpharetta (146) in fifth and Chattahoochee (148)
West (151) earned seventh place and North (165) finished in eighth.
Allie Buchalski (19:21:72) of Johns Creek easily won the girls race by 32 seconds, but the race for second place came down to less than two tenths of a second.
Carnahan was in second place going down the final hill toward the finish line with Zimmer about five yards ahead, and then Zimmer made her move. She used what energy she had left to sprint past Carnahan for second place.
"I had expectations for myself, but it was a hard race," Zimmer said. "Savannah ran very well. We were neck and neck with each other the whole time, so it was a close one. It’s what makes cross country fun when you have good competition and girls like that.
"We’ve been training really hard and I’m proud of all of the girls. I know they ran their hearts out."
Lambert head coach Natalie Leonard was all smiles following the girls race.
"[The girls] did really well," Leonard said. "I was really excited to see Leanne and Katherine come in very close to one another and I was very excited to see Leanne beat [Carnahan]. They both have been racing back and forth, so it’s nice to have a little comradery."
All three local teams will compete for a state championship on Saturday at Carrollton High School.
"I’m relieved," South head coach Van Munn said. "It was real close. Fourth place in both was very tight and it was certainly not a definite [win]. We had to really work hard to be there. It was very competitive.
"We’ve got a really young team. … We could have gone third to sixth very easily, so fourth was right in the middle. We hoped and kind of expected it and we were ready, so it’s not a real surprise, but it’s good. They stepped up and did real well."