Coweta Cup: Miller grabs spotlight, but Vikings able to keep their crown
By CHRIS GOLTERMANN
Newnan sophomore Matthew Miller earned his share of the spotlight during Saturday’s Coweta Cup cross-country championships at Northgate High. But the Vikings weren’t about to give away their crown.
Miller continued a remarkable improvement over last year’s varsity debut by holding off two-time winner Austin Freeman of East Coweta for individual honors in 17:22 while establishing a new personal best time for the 2012 season. Nearly two minutes faster than his time on the same three-loop course a year ago, the Cougar sophomore moved to the front of a field of 26 runners early while slowly building a 20-second gap ahead of the Indians’ senior standout.
“I thought I went out too fast. But I told myself to keep steady with my pace,” Miller said, “and that kinda carried me through the race.”
The finish, however, was highlighted by Northgate’s kick for home. Placing all five scorers among the top nine to cross the line, the Vikings held off both county rivals with a 32-point effort while Newnan and East Coweta each tied for second place with 45.
With five new faces leading the way, the Vikings’ final push proved the difference with juniors Josh Oller and Evan Vatave along with freshman Spencer Ramthun all within 18 seconds of one another as the team obliterated last week’s marks on a tough course at the Pike County Invitational.
Oller finished fourth in 17:57, more than a minute faster than the previous Saturday’s effort, with Ramthun right behind in fifth while crossing in 18:08. Vatave nipped Newnan’s Ty Mossburg for sixth to gain a point in the team standings in 18:17. On Mossburg’s heels was Northgate junior Lee Green in eighth with a time of 18:19, and senior Matt Bemister clinched the win by finishing ninth in 18:31.
None of the Vikings’ scorers on Saturday factored in last year’s Coweta Cup championship effort which was dominated by Northgate senior runners. Head coach Chris Kimes used last week’s Pike County Invitational to gauge a large roster this season that has produced friendly competition between varsity and JV lineups.
Miller, meanwhile, has equally emerged as a young runner on the rise. It’s been the result of staying active during the off months between the track and cross-country season.
“I definitely put in a lot of work,” said Miller, who also ran track last spring. “[This] summer, I knew I had to work harder. My freshman season I didn’t do a lot of running that summer. I was just starting over every season. So this time I just continued through the summer into the season.”
Four of Newnan’s five scorers came from underclassmen as well. In addition to Mossburg’s seventh-place effort in 18:17, the Cougars received a 10th-place finish from Anthony Galvin in 18:31. Sophomore Mike McMahon (13th, 18:49) and junior Ben Ketelsen (14th, 18:50) rounded out Newnan’s first five to cross the line.
In addition to Freeman, East Coweta’s boys received a huge boost from senior Josh Bruce. A week after running a 19-minute mark at the ASICS Invitational, Bruce sprinted to the finish to out-race Oller, Northgate’s No. 1 runner, for third place overall in 17:54.
Matthew Shuemake (18:40) and Sam Siprelle (18:48) placed 11th and 12th, respectively and sophomore Zachery Delgado (19:06) and junior Cliff Hock (19:15) finished 17th and 18th for the Indians.