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GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY PREVIEW: Team-by-team capsules
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Forsyth County News

FORSYTH CENTRAL

Coach: Shannon Hays (First season)

Key returners: Bonnie McKinnon (Jr.)

Key newcomers: Alyssa Hooper (Fr.), MaKenzie Strange (So.), Ashley Malone (So.), McKenzie Brumbelow (Jr.), Devyn Malenzak (Jr.), Sam Chamblee (Jr.)

Season outlook: Outside of junior Bonnie McKinnon (20:08 personal best), who Hays described as a strong leader, Central’s girls will look entirely different than last year’s team. The Bulldogs’ newcomers all have played other sports, from soccer and softball to basketball and competitive cheerleading. Hays said early-season meets will be important for the girls to gain race experience in competitive situations. “The team goal is to compete at the region meet,” Hays said. “With a new team, it always looks different in late October from late August. The varsity girls put in the miles this summer, which did not happen last summer…Central may just surprise a few teams in November.”

NORTH FORSYTH

Coach: Matt Aycock (First season)

Key returners: Gigi Fulkerson (Jr.), Nina Carter (Jr.)

Key newcomers: Stephanie Metzger (Fr.), Erica Bell (So.)

Season outlook: Aycock has plenty of work to do with the North girls, who finished last in the Region 6-AAAAAA meet. Fulkerson set a personal best with a 22:02 run at region, earning her a 37th place finish. Carter finished 53rd at the region meet; her personal best time (23:45) came at the Carrollton Last Chance meet last October. “Gigi and Nina are ready to take this program to new heights,” Aycock said. “We’re young and looking to gain experience as the season progresses, but hoping to improve upon last year’s region finish.”

PINECREST ACADEMY

Coach: Melissa Nevarez (First season)

Key returners: Maria Carroll (Jr.)

Key newcomers: Olivia Turner (Fr.), Meghan Jennings (Fr.)

Season outlook: For the first time in two years, Pinecrest has enough girls to score in a varsity meet. Thirteen new runners—many of them sophomores—join Nevarez’s program. The goal this offseason, Nevarez said, was to build a bigger, deeper team, and the Paladins appear to have done so. Junior Maria Carroll leads the way for Pinecrest with a personal-best time of 21:59. “We are so excited to have such a large team of girls who enjoy running,” Nevarez said. “Of the girls we’ve added, most of them have a conditioning base from soccer. Not only will we score, but we might have a few surprising finishes.”

SOUTH FORSYTH

Key returners: Savannah Carnahan (Jr.), Milicent Bergey (So.), Savannah Ratcliff (Sr.), Emma Maisel (Jr.), Taylor Coleman (Sr.), Devynn Honey (Sr.)

Key newcomers: Kaylee DuPont (Fr.), Jordie Mund (So.)

Season outlook: With the return of Savannah Carnahan and Milicent Bergey, South has a realistic shot at a region title and an improvement upon last year’s seventh-place finish in the state meet. Carnahan (17:36) won the Region 6-AAAAAA title last season, and Bergey (18:38) finished second. Munn sees promise in freshman Kaylee DuPont, a middle school track star who has performed well in the War Eagles’ cross country time trials.The girls are deep from numbers four through 12,” Munn said. “We need several of those to step forward and bridge the gap to the top three. We’re depending on two relatively young runners to fill the four and five spots.”

WEST FORSYTH

Coach: Clayton Tillery

Key returners: Julie Ericson (So.), Liz Galarza (So.), Dara Niemi (Jr.), Stephanie Shea (So.), Kim Gibson (Jr.), Kaitlyn Griffith (Jr.), Hadley Karandjeff (So.)

Key newcomers: Katie Smith (Fr.), Amanda MacArthur (Fr.)

Season outlook: West’s girls finished fifth at last year’s state meet, and Tillery is confident that the Wolverines can repeat—if not improve upon—that performance. Julie Ericson (personal best 19:16) finished third in the region as a freshman. Liz Galarza (19:51) finished not far behind. The duo returns as a formidable one-two punch. Junior Dara Niemi (19:58) was the only other Lady Wolverine to run a sub-20 minute time last season. Tillery said junior Kim Gibson (20:38) made significant progress and ran a strong pre-season time trial. Sophomore Stephanie Shea (20:38) joined West’s squad too late to compete in varsity races but won the junior varsity region and would’ve been in the varsity’s top five runners. Freshman Amanda MacArthur joins West from Tillery’s junior program.