October 8, 2020 -- ATLANTA -- Much like the rest of the world, the Wingfoot XC Classic is adjusting for COVID-19 with a drastically different format for this year's meet.
The sixth annual Wingfoot XC Classic has been moved to this Saturday, October 10, later than its traditional late-September date. It will feature 40 high school and middle school teams competing in a time trial format. Starting at 7:15 a.m., teams will start up to 50 runners - boys and girls - every 10 minutes. Teams with more than 50 athletes will be given adjacent time slots.
Results will be decided by cumulative times of the top five runners on each team. The fastest boy and girl of the day will be named individual champions. The Wingfoot Cup will be awarded to the school with the lowest combined time of its top seven boys and girls.
Boys' Team Race
With three-time champions Milton sitting its top runners and defending champions Harrison not returning in 2020, Decatur High School (10:05 a.m.) is the odds-on favorite to take the boys' title. The team just placed 7th at the stacked Alexander Asics Invitational last weekend with a 16:20 average 5K time, defeating Milton, Cambridge and Brookwood in the process. Led by junior Christian Gonzalez and senior Eoin McNally and, expect a breakout performance at Decatur's third meet of the season.
Brookwood High School (8:45 a.m.) senior Will Bray gives his school a chance at the individual and team titles. Bray ran a new personal best of 15:38 at Alexander Asics last weekend, leading his team to a 16:37 average and a 19th place team finish.
Cambridge (10:45 a.m.) will be looking for revenge after placing 21st at Alexander Asics. Junior Lyle Donavan will look to improve on the team's 16:44 average from a week ago.
And Walton High School (8:25 a.m.) can't be counted out. After placing second at the Cherokee County Classic and third at the Cobb County Championships, senior Samuel Balboa hopes to lead his team to Wingfoot XC victory for the first time.
Bray, McNally and Gonzalez are all in the hunt for the individual title with Bray running the fastest time of the four in 2020. However, Gonzalez has run 15:05 and McNally has a 15:23 to his name, with both times coming from Alexander Asics in 2019. Holy Innocents Episcopal School junior Joe Sapone could be a dark horse. He ran 15:58 in his lone 5K race of the season. With a breakthrough performance, Donovan and Brookwood's Seth Wheeler could also be in the mix. However, neither has broken 16:00 yet.
Girls Team Race
Three of the four top teams on the boys' side will also be contenders in the girls' race. There's a good chance the Wingfoot Cup will go to either Cambridge, Brookwood or Walton.
But Riverwood International Charter School (11:45 a.m.) will be tough to beat as a team in this race. Coming off a 12th place finish at Alexander Asics, senior Elle Mezzio could be the fastest runner of the day. Mezzio ran 18:08 last weekend to lead the team to a 19:43 average, 100 points ahead of Cambridge.
Cambridge is a young team entering just its third race of the season. With only two seniors in the top seven, they took 17th last week at Alexander Asics with an average time of 20:14. Their top five was only separated by 1:02.
Walton High School's Sarah Burwell will vie for the top overall spot as she tries to lead her team to victory. Burwell, a senior, has won her last two races. She was runner-up at the Cobb County Championships where the team placed fourth.
Brookwood High School also took fourth in its county championships with a 21:52 average at the Gwinnett County meet. Allie Wardle, a sophomore, leads the team. She set a new personal best of 19:03 at Alexander Asics last week.
Joining Mezzio and Burwell as the top contenders for the individual title is Alexa Hoppenfeld, Mezzio's teammate at Riverwood. Hoppenfeld ran 18:41 last weekend and could carry the torch if Mezzio has an off day. Cara Joyce, a junior at Atlanta International School also factors into the race for first. Joyce, who has a personal best of 18:03 from last year, was just one second behind Hoppenfeld, running 18:42 at Alexander Asics.
You can follow results beginning at 7 a.m. on Saturday by clicking here.