Walton won the team and individual titles from both the girls and boys races, while Etowah placed second in both team standings.
Walton coach Travis Gower said there was no way he could be disappointed with the results — and that was before he heard the girls had won the region title.
“Individual and team-wise, we came out on top,” Gower said. “You can’t ask for anything better than that. They ran great all across the board, all day. It’s a very, very good region as a group and I think they should do well next week at state.”
In the boys race, Walton’s Kenan Farmer pulled away from the competition over the final 2 miles for a victory in 15 minutes, 44.71 seconds. Close behind him was Woodstock’s Owen Bailey (15:47.67).
It wasn’t a record time for Farmer, but he was still pleased. He benefited from a push from Bailey during the first 2 miles.
“It was nice to have Owen there with me,” Farmer said. “We worked together there a bit pushing each other.”
More than 30 seconds behind the front duo was a pack led by Etowah’s Sam Donley (16:23.28).
Wheeler’s Ryan Peck (fourth, 16:27.52) and Jason Boone (fifth, 16:28.64) qualified for the state meet as individuals, by way of their top-six finishes. Bailey qualified for state as well, though Woodstock failed to make it as a team.
Contributing to Walton’s championship total of 54 points were Andrew Singh (eighth, 16:34.27), Connor Kilch (ninth, 16:35.02), Ben Dahlgren (15th, 16:47.36) and Miles Greer (18th, 16:56.94).
Also scoring for Etowah were Michael Perona (sixth, 16:30.29), Blake Beavers (10th, 16:37.56), Garrett Metropol (24th, 17:15.96) and Brett Merrall (29th, 17:26.85).
In the team standings, Milton was third, followed by Roswell, which edged Wheeler by just four points. Cherokee finished sixth, followed by Woodstock and Lassiter.
In the girls meet, Walton edged Etowah by just one point.
The Lady Eagles saw top runner Kingsley Green drop out of the race after starting out with the leaders. Etowah coach Jesse Howard said the outcome would have been different had Green not gone done with the injury.
Green had to be carried from the course, but Howard hopes it isn’t serious and she can join the team at the state meet in Carrollton next weekend.
“Our No. 1 went out of the race,” Howard said. “I don’t know if she was even 2 miles in. When your No. 1 runner goes out and you see that you lose by one point without her, it just shows that we have the talent to win the whole region championship, so that definitely hurts.”
Walton’s Avery Bussjager won the race with a time of 18:19.80 — nearly 30 seconds ahead of any of her competition. Woodstock’s Alexandra Melehan (18:49.53) placed second and helped her team qualify with a four-place team finish.
“There were a lot of really good girls out there, and that helps everybody race,” Melehan said. “Running a good time at region gives you a good feeling. You get confidence going into state.”
As for Etowah’s performances, Howard said it’s hard to complain when the team reached its goal of going to the state meet on both the girls and boys sides.
“We were very competitive in both races,” Howard said. “We wanted to win, but at least we took another step. We are advancing and there are a lot of teams that are going home.”
Etowah’s Kyla Resnick (19:01.77) was third in the girls race, followed by Roswell’s Rachel VanAmburgh (19:05.66) and Cherokee’s Caitlyn Farrell (19:16.73), who will compete at the state meet as an individual.
Adding to Walton’s championship score of 59 were Christie Sanders (eighth, 19:45.06), Madie Paulk (13th, 20:17), Vivian Bridges (15th, 20:31.88) and Caityln McSwigan (22nd, 20:47.83).
Scoring for Etowah were Resnick, Macki Walsh (10th, 20:04.7), Julia Turbyfield (12th, 20:14.24), Madison Fowler (17th, 20:34.26) and Shelby Rensel (18th, 20:38.61).
In addition to Melehan, Morgan O’Toole (ninth, 19:49.98), Catherine Moreau (20th, 20:40.79), Taylor Poole (25th, 20:59.75) and Brittany Burnett (26th, 21:00.6) scored for Woodstock.