Cross Country Preview

Northgate lineups enter with clear-cut goals

by Doug Gorman

The numbers don't lie.

With more than 57 runners in this year's Northgate cross country program, head coach Chris Kimes is experiencing the kind of participation seen on the football field.

'We get a lot of support from the administration and the entire school,' Kimes said. 'We have had a lot of success and it shows with the number of kids who come out for the team.'

Teams open the season on Saturday at the Spalding Invitational.

This year's Northgate lineups are a mix of pure cross country runners and athletes using it as a second sport to stay active.

'If you don't play football or softbal l in the fall, cross country is a great way to stay in shape,' Kimes said. The goals haven't changed, however. Both lineups are aiming to reach respective Class AAAAA state meets at Carrollton in early November while also maintaining its hold of county bragging rights at this year's Coweta Cup Championships, set for Oct. 19, at Newnan Utilities Park.

The Vikings boys have held onto their title for 10 straight seasons while Northgate's girls are also defending champs.

'It's great to win the county meet, and that is always our goal,' Kimes said. 'But if you are not striving to win state every year, I think you are misdirected.'

The Lady Vikings look to build off a strong track season from the spring where several younger faces emerged in longdistance events. Along with Caitlin Bellora, and Yasmin Gee, twins Erica and Taylor Lee bring experience to the team.

Bellora heads into the season after a couple of solid finishes last year including a sixth-place finish in the Coweta Cup in a personal best time of 20:54.

Gee took 18th at the Coweta Cup.

Erica was 15th the Region 4-AAAAA championships with a personal best of 20:33, before finishing 57th at the state meet.

With its dominance over the last decade at the Coweta Cup, Northgate's boys return a squad filled with experience.

Josh Oller had the best finish among Viking runners at last year's Coweta Cup (17:57) and also placed second at Northgate's host Coach Daley Invitational (18:36). Evan Vatave is back after placing sixth at the Coweta Cup (18:16). He was also 33rd in at the Region 4-AAAAA meet (18:11).

Spencer Ramthun will be counted on among experienced runners for the Vikings this year and placed fifth at last year's Coweta Cup (18:08).

Following Saturday's season opener, Northgate also runs in three meets next month, including the annual Coach Daley Invitational on Sept. 21. Teams will get two looks at the state meet course at Carrollton along the way this fall prior to the Region 4-AAAAA meet.

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