Athletes Primed to Add to 70 Year APS XC Championships

For more than 20 years, Grant Park has been the home of Atlanta Public Schools (APS) cross country, playing host to dozens of the district's meets. This Saturday, October 2, the tradition continues with the APS Cross Country City Championships. Thousands of Atlanta's athletes have taken on the steep and winding hills of Atlanta's oldest park, claiming the accomplishment of finishing a race on one of Georgia's most challenging courses. 12 high school and six middle school teams with more than 400 runners will stand on the start line Saturday.


2021 APS City Championships High School Preview

Ellie Spears is the defending girls APS Cross Country City Champion, having run 22:25.70 to win on the tough Grant Park course in 2019 (the 2020 race was cancelled due to COVID-19). The senior runner hopes to see Midtown claim its fourth consecutive girls and boys APS Cross Country City Championship titles this weekend. The Midtown girls are in a good position to win the championship, as they finished 1-5 among APS teams at each of this season's three APS Cross Country Series Meets. Junior standout Emilia Weinrobe has won each of the district's races in convincing fashion while Jamie Marlowe, who is also a junior, is fresh off of a solid third place finish with 19:18.30 in the Girls Varsity Race at this past weekend's Wingfoot XC Classic.

However, they will face a tough battle against the ladies of North Atlanta, led by Catherine Townsend who ran a fast 19:04.60 for 12th place at the Wingfoot XC Classic Championship race. Townsend, along with sisters Heidi and Clara Heppner led North Atlanta to win the Run at the Rock and take third at the Carrollton Orthopaedic Invitational meets this season.

The Maynard Jackson girls have finished second during each of this year's APS Series Meets with Meg Frederick, Alexia Watts and Audrey Martin leading the way for the Jaguars. They will also be on the hunt for a win on Saturday. KIPP Atlanta Collegiate is an up and coming team that will likely be in the mix for a team trophy. They are led by freshman Alexandria Prentice and sophomore Heaven Hightower.

Ethan Crosby hopes to lead Maynard Jackson to break Midtown's winning streak. Crosby and the Maynard Jackson boys team have won each of this season's APS Series Meets. During meet one at Grant Park, Crosby won in 18:30.31 and Maynard Jackson secured a 21 point victory ahead of Midtown and KIPP Atlanta Collegiate. The APS City Championship will be only the second time APS athletes compete at Grant Park this year with the other two APS Series Races races having taken place at the new Cheney Stadium course (another Grant Park race was cancelled due to inclimate weather).

Midtown's underclassman trio of Marcus Johnson, William Palmer and Zachary Spangler have each finished within the top five during the previous two APS Series Meets and hope to lead their team to the top of this year's championship podium.

KIPP Atlanta Collegiate's Tyler Thomas and Drew Charter School's Zachary Harris have been making steady improvements throughout the season and look to shake things up within the boys individual top 10 on Saturday.

Grady girls and boys teams celebrating after winning 2019 APS Cross Country City Championships

2021 APS City Championships Middle School Preview

This year's APS Cross Country City Championships will also feature middle school races for the first time ever. These 6th-8th grade runners will take on a demanding two loop, two mile course at Grant Park.

Howard and Atlanta Neighborhood Charter Middle Schools will also be in the mix for the girls team title. Rose Glickauf, who is in seventh grade, looks to steer the deep Howard girls team to victory. Eighth graders Myla Kresege and Regan Saffel have finished within the top five during each APS Series Meet so far for Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School.

The Howard boys are unbeaten so far during APS Series Meets this season with team leader and eighth grader Cameron Collier entering the race with the fastest two mile time in the field of 12:42.56.

Seventh grader Elias Chalberg of Drew Charter School has also been quick this season and looks to challenge Collier for the win. The Drew Charter School and Martin Luther King, Jr. boys teams have been battling it out for second this season, and it will be exciting to see who comes out on top between the two at the City Championships.

Lena Larkworthy of Martin Luther King, Jr Middle School winning 2 mile in 14:57.03


APS Cross Country City Championships Event Schedule

  • 8:30am High School Boys Race
  • 9:10am High School Girls Race

  • 10:15am Middle School Boys Race

  • 10:40am Middle School Girls Race

Grant Park Course History

The APS Cross Country City Championships first began in 1952, consisting of a 2.2 mile race at Atlanta's Waterworks Park between 13 white schools. On August 30, 1961 the APS district desegregated when nine black students, remembered as the Atlanta Nine, began attending four all-white APS high schools. The desegregation of the APS City Championships was led by the district's Athletic Director, Sid Scarbrough, who fought tough opposition, but was ultimately successful in bringing together the first APS Cross Country City Championships to feature black and white athletes in 1965.

The race was moved to Piedmont Park during the early 1980s and was bumped up to the 5K distance. That course was located on what is now Oak Hill and the Meadow with a finish line not too far away from where Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race participants finish today.

During 1998, which was the last year the City Championships were held at Piedmont Park, Gedamu Ege of Grady set the boys course record with 16:26. The APS City Championships were moved to Grant Park the following year, where Ege defended his title with a time of 17:07. That 40 second difference between winning times for Ege is a testament to the Grant Park course's difficulty. Ege, who arrived in the United States at the age of 13 as a refugee from Ethiopia, earned four state championship titles across cross country and track and field before running at Mississippi State.

Ashenafi Arega of North Atlanta lowered the boys Grant Park course record to 17.01 during the 2002 APS City Championships. Like Ege, Arega was also born in Ethiopia and went on to become a standout runner at Mississippi State.

Zane Coburn now tops the boys City Championships all-time list, having run 16:51.01 for Grady in 2010. That time tends to lead to dropped jaws once learned it was run on the notorious Grant Park course. Coburn went on to place eighth in the ensuing GHSA State Championships with 16:30.91 and second the following year with 16:03.55 before running at Georgia Tech and as a member of the Atlanta Track Club Elite Team.

"It feels great to know that after all these years, the course record still stands," said Coburn. "I always felt as if Grant Park prepared us for the State meet. It has hills, loose footing, road crossings, etc. A decade later, let's see if someone breaks the record this weekend!"

Atlanta Track Club Elite Team members Zane Coburn, Ed Kemboi and Rachel Walters speaking with North Atlanta athletes


Shamel Stidwell and Ramanda Christian led D.M. Therrell to win the APS City Championships title in 2008 and placed second in 2009. Stidwell set the girls APS City Championships record at Grant Park with 22:21.00 in 2008 before Christian lowered it to 22:35.47 during the following year. Both went on to run at Fort Valley State University.

The girls APS City Championships record steadily progressed to 2017 when Walden Jones of Grady lowered it to 21:05.84. She went on to place within the top 10 of the ensuing track and field season's State Championships 1,600m and 3,200m.

Since 2018, Atlanta Track Club has partnered with APS to support the district's cross country and track and field programs through initiatives aimed at improving performance, generating excitement and building community. Since the beginning of the partnership, Atlanta Track Club has supported APS's cross country meets with timing, announcing, awards and festivities to enhance the meet experience for athletes and coaches. Over $40,000 worth of equipment and grant funding has been distributed to the district assisting with meet entry fees, training and competition equipment, and coaches' professional development such as USATF coaching certifications. Through these and several other efforts, Atlanta Track Club empowers the district with the tools and knowledge necessary to motivate, inspire and engage the next generation of athletes for long-term success.


Boys APS Cross Country City Championships Records Dating Back to 2008

Position

Athlete

School

Time

Year

1

Zane Coburn

Grady

16:51.01

2010

2

Jackson Pearce

North Atlanta

17:07.72

2016

3

Bram Mansbach

Grady

17:18.90

2019

4

Adrian Malik Epps

North Atlanta

17:23.74

2010

5

Kavi Jakes

Grady

17:28.40

2019

6

Ethan Curnow

North Atlanta

17:28.80

2019

7

Jacob Jean-Pierre

Maynard Jackson

17:37.64

2010

8

Aidan Goldston

Grady

17:44.27

2017

9

John Rudd

North Atlanta

17:50.76

2013

10

Isaiha Davis

Grady

17:55.80

2017


To view APS Cross Country City Championships boys individual and team scoring since 2008 click here.


Girls APS Cross Country City Championships Records Dating Back to 2008

Position

Athlete

School

Time

Year

1

Walden Jones

Grady

21:05.84

2017

2

Anna Tischer

Grady

21:09.46

2017

3

Ellie Hankin

North Atlanta

21:15.33

2016

4

Madeline Pearce

North Atlanta

21:20.96

2013

5

Jamesha Ford

Therrell

22:06.72

2011

6

Cecelia Kinnane

Grady

22:07.95

2010

7

Grace Powers

Grady

22:10.19

2013

8

Alix Youngblood

Grady

22:14.87

2010

9

Allison Rapoport

Grady

22:15.89

2010

10

Glena Tutt

North Atlanta

22:17.67

2013


To view APS Cross Country City Championships girls individual and team scoring since 2008 click here.


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