Nelson, Bellora lead way as Northgate clinches berth
FAYETTEVILLE — While a former Northgate standout led the way, the Lady Vikings put forth an effort during Saturday’s Region 4-AAAAA cross-country championships that showed plenty of potential both for next week’s GHSA Championships and well beyond.
A roster monopolized by ninth, 10th and 11th graders put together a third-place finish while earning a return trip to the state meet in Carrollton.
Led by personal-best times from freshmen Caroline Nelson and junior Caitlin Bellora, this year’s Coweta Cup champion, in second and third-place efforts individually, Northgate’s girls finished behind only McIntosh and Starr’s Mill, led by one-time Lady Viking standout Hailey Gollnick.
Gollnick, now a senior won the individual region title in 19:19, more than 20 seconds ahead of Northgate’s top duo. But it didn’t stop coach Chris Kimes from telling both of his both runners not to be afraid to challenge the Starr’s Mill standout on Saturday.
“I just told them to go out and try and track her down if they felt strong enough,” Kimes said. “I know both of them had a [personal best].”
Packing its runners between 12th and 15th place behind Gollnick, Starr’s Mill was able to hold off the Lady Vikings for second place among team scores. McIntosh won the region title with 41 points, followed by the Lady Panthers (57) and Northgate (61).
In her first varsity season, Nelson came in with a runner-up finish in 19:41 while Bellora was able to hold off McIntosh’s No. 1 runner, Taylor Snell, for third place in 19:51.
Sophomore twins Erica and Taylor Lee also finished in the top 20 for the Lady Vikings. Erica crossed in 11th place in 20:35 while Taylor was 19th overall in 21:40.
Freshman Elise Glorvigen and junior Laura Rodes crossed three seconds apart in 27th and 28th place, with Glovergen’s mark of 22:17 completing the scoring for Northgate’s girls.
Northgate freshman Juliana Fugate was right on the heels of both teammates while finishing 30th in 22:30. All but Nelson and Fugate will be making a repeat trip to the state meet, with the Lady Viking freshman duo earning their first trip to Carrollton this Saturday.
Northgate’s boys, meanwhile, were unable to extend its season in a deep field that included seven teams from 4-AAAAA.
McIntosh completed the sweep of region titles with 47 points among boys, with Starr’s Mill (53) and Whitewater (65) rounding out the top-three team finishers.
The Chiefs also produced the meet’s top-two individual placers in seniors Joshua Mattingly (16:08) and Taylor Huntley (16:15).
The Vikings were led by sophomores Andrew Tuttle and Andrew Lail. The duo placed 25th and 26th, respectively, in 17:44 and 17:47.
Evan Vatave was Northgate’s third runner to cross in 31st place in 17:57 while Justin Whipple (18:35), Gabe Mendez (18:39), Spencer Ramthun (18:44) and Harrison Griffiths (18:48) crossed consecutively from 38th-41st place, respectively.