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GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY PREVIEW: Team-by-team capsules
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West Forsyth's Liz Galarza was the top Forsyth County finisher at the Class AAAAAA championship meet last season when she finished third overall. - photo by File photo

FORSYTH CENTRAL

Head coach: Shannon Hays, third season.

Last season: Second at county meet, 12th at Region 7-AAAAA.

Key returners: Bonnie McKinnon, sr.; Ashley Malone.

Key newcomers: Meredith Edwards, Kierra Higgins, Libby Owens, Lauren Springsteen.

Outlook: The Lady Bulldogs have been somewhat shadowed by the recent accomplishments of the Forsyth Central boys team, but third-year coach Shannon Hays has been busy building the foundation of a competitive program. That meant cross country camps this summer in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. This season’s version will be especially young, but it’ll once again have the example of a good front-runner in senior Bonnie McKinnon. Central may make strides this season, but it might not be enough while competing in one of the toughest regions in the state.

LAMBERT

Head coach: Natalie Leonard, sixth season.

Last season: Third at county meet, seventh at Region 6-AAAAAA.

Key returners: Ashton Alcorn, sr.; Libby Bocko, so.; Haley Bolt, jr.; Kate Coriell, jr.; Anna McCarthy, jr.; Mae McKenna, jr. ; Elly Sherman, so.; Kaylee Stiwell, so.

Key newcomers: Lindsey Allen, fr.; Alycia Huntington, fr.; Brianna O’Neal, fr.; Ashley Rossiollo, fr.; Katie Schwind, so.

Outlook: Lady Longhorns head coach Natalie Leonard has her team embracing the role of underdog this season. That’s understandable, considering Lambert shares a region with state heavyweights Northview, South Forsyth and West Forsyth. But Lambert does have a strong leader in junior Mae McKenna. Sophomore Katie Schwind could be a big addition for the Lady Longhorns. She played softball last season, but is devoted to cross country after an encouraging track season. Otherwise, Lambert is still the midst of a youth movement, with only four seniors among 54 girl runners in the program.

NORTH FORSYTH

Coach: Heather Moore, first season.

Last season: Fourth at county meet, ninth at Region 6-AAAAAA.

Key returners: Gigi Fulkerson, sr.; Nina Carter, sr.

Key newcomers: Kylee Howlin, fr.; Caitlin Lemieux, so.

Outlook: The Lady Raiders have a tough climb up in Region 6-AAAAAA, especially with its third head coach in three years. But this is first-year head coach Heather Moore’s third year with the program, so the transition shouldn’t be as dramatic for North. It also helps to have senior Gigi Fulkerson, an experienced runner. Regardless, the Lady Raiders have work to do catch up in the county, let alone region.

PINECREST ACADEMY

Coach: Melissa Nevarez, second season.

Last season: Sixth at Region 2-A meet.

Key returners: Maria Carroll, sr.; Abbie Guard, jr.; Meghan Jennings, so.

Key newcomers: Christina Aufleger, sr.; Charlotte Peronne, fr.

Outlook: After something of a lull, Pinecrest hopes its program is starting to gain momentum after fielding a full competitive team last season. A middle school program returned after a two-year absence to help feed the high school ranks. The Lady Paladins might not be ready yet to contend, but it has a strong senior leader in Maria Carroll, who finished top 25 at region last season. She’ll set a good example for the infusion of new and young runners joining the team this season. 

SOUTH FORSYTH

Coach: Van Munn, fourth season.

Last season: First at county meet, first at Region 6-AAAAAA meet, second at state meet.

Key returners: Milicent Bergey, jr.; Savannah Carnahan, sr.; Kaylee Dupont, so.; Emma Maisel, sr.

Key newcomers: None.

Outlook: Few teams, runners Nos. 1 through 4, are stronger than the Lady War Eagles. This is, after all, the same core that helped South win Region 6-AAAAAA and place second in AAAAAA last season to region opponent Northview. Carnahan is the two-time Forsyth County News Girls Runner of the Year who finished fourth at state. Kaylee Dupont was a top-six finisher at state last season as a freshman. Milicent Bergey and Emma Maisel were both top-30 finishers. If South wants to take down Northview, it’ll be spots five through seven that determine it.

WEST FORSYTH

Coach: Clayton Tillery, ninth season.

Last season: Fifth at county meet, third at Region 6-AAAAAA meet, fourth at state meet.

Key returners: Madison Bowers, sr.; Julie Ericson, jr.; Liz Galarza, jr.; Kaitlyn Griffith, sr.; Amanda MacArthur, so.; Dara Niemi, sr.; Stephanie Shea, jr.

Key newcomers: Mallory Luskus, fr.; Regan Poteet, jr.

Outlook: Huge things could be in store for the Lady Wolverines thanks to a strong nucleus returning and some key additions. Liz Galarza returns after finishing third individually at state last season. The Lady Wolverines also return strong contributors in Julie Ericson, Kaitlyn Griffith and Dara Niemi. Plus, two pivotal reinforcements are added: junior Regan Poteet, a transfer from Kell who finished sixth in AAAAA last season, and freshman Mallory Luskus, who placed eighth at the middle school state championship last season.