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GIRL RUNNER OF THE YEAR: Savannah Carnahan, South Forsyth
With another strong season, Lady War Eagles junior firmly among elite company
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South Forsyth junior Savannah Carnahan is the 2014 Forsyth County News Girls' Runner of the Year. - photo by Micah Green

The highlight of South Forsyth junior Savannah Carnahan’s cross country season wasn’t any of her six individual titles, her second place finish at the Region 6-AAAAAA meet or her second top-five finish at the GHSA Cross Country Championships. No, Carnahan has started to let her ambitions expand beyond the Georgia border.

The highlight was an 18th-place finish at the Foot Locker South Regional a few weeks ago in Charlotte, N.C. Carnahan’s time of 17:51 was the fourth best by a girl runner from Georgia and helped solidify the Forsyth County News’ Girls’ Runner of the Year as one of the elite in the region.

Indeed, despite struggling with an illness during the weeks of the region and state meets, Carnahan maintained her status as the county’s top runner, powering through for impressive finishes to help lead South to a region championship and second-place finish in Class AAAAAA.

Question: How would you describe your season?

Carnahan: “Oh, it’s by far the most successful cross country season I’ve had personally. I had a few set-backs, especially later in the season, but overall it was just amazing to be able to run so well myself, and then this is the first season where I’ve had a really, really good team behind me, and that’s so exciting. So it was an amazing season.”

Q: What was the highlight for your season?

Carnahan: “I got under 18 [minutes] three times this season. Oh, four times, excuse me. That was a pretty big deal for me. And also I was able to run very well at Foot Locker [South Regional]. I got 18th in the entire Southeast, so that was extremely exciting. It’s the first time I’ve been able to do really well there. That was probably my highlight.”

Q: What felt like the biggest challenge?

Carnahan: “I had some issues with sickness over the week of region and state. It was actually two days before region I felt this scratchy throat coming. I was like, ‘Oh, no, not again.’ I knew I had to push through it for my team. It was OK at region, and then it got a little worse for state. But I’m really glad I was able to push through that challenge for my team and be able to get state runner-up with them.”

Q: What kind of goals will you have for next season?

Carnahan: “I want to get under 18 [minutes] more times next season, and it would be amazing if I could get under 17 [minutes] just once next season. That would be amazing. And of course there’s always state. I haven’t won a state championship yet, and that’s always a goal. Also, of course our team got state runner-up this year, so we’re all back in gear to get motivated for next season, because right after cross country ends you have to start preparing and prepping for the next cross country season. Those are some of the biggest goals for me.”

Q: What kind of pressure will your team face next season coming off this year’s runner-up finish?

Carnahan: “Well, [Class AAAAAA champion] Northview brings back all five of their girls for next season, so that’s a big hurdle to climb. Even though we got runner-up this year, we’re going to be the underdogs again next season because we lose a senior. We’re going to have to get a fifth girl in place and get a fifth girl running strong and running hard, so that’ll be a big challenge for us. And really our expectations are as high as they can get. We want to go as far as we can, we want to work as hard as we can, and we don’t want there to be anything that we leave behind in regret.”