ATLANTA - September 20, 2021 -- The Boys' Varsity Championship race at the 2021 Wingfoot XC Championship is shaping up to be a battle of not only some of the best teams in the southeast, but some of the best teams in the United States. While most of the top-seeded teams come from the Metro Atlanta-area, an out-of-state team could overcome their rivals' home field advantage and take home the Wingfoot Cup. This year, the meet returns to its traditional format following a time trial format in 2020 due to COVID-19. Here are some of the teams to watch Friday night under the lights.
Mill Creek High School
The Hawks come to Cartersville undefeated to fellow Georgia teams. This season they have dominated meets like the AT&T Panther Invite where they won by more than 40 points and their top five averaged 16:20. They won the Gwinnett County Championship by 44 points over Brookwood. This team finished sixth in 7A last year, but returning runners have propelled them to one of the top-ranked teams in the country. Mill Creek is led by senior Ethan Nordman, but can expect only a 15 second spread between their second and fourth runners. Nordman will be a factor in the individual competition as well.
Blessed Trinity High School
The one-two punch of seniors Ben Rothering and Zack Burke will keep the Titans in the picture on Friday night. Rothering has posted the third fastest time in the state this year running 15:30 earlier this month. It's tough to gauge how tough this squad is with early season performances. At the Bob Blastow Early Bird Invitational they put 45 points on their next closest competitor and averaged 16:17 for their top five. But, they only placed seventh at the Carrolton Orthopedic Invitational in what appeared to be a workout effort.
Huntsville High School
Huntsville hopes to bring the Wingfoot Cup across state lines to Alabama. The defending state champions are returning three of their top five runners from last year's title-winning team. Jackson Harris, a junior, is the Panthers' top runner, but the key to a win at Wingfoot will be the 4th and 5th runners. That includes freshman Eric Moore who has already run in the low 17's this season.
Like Huntsville, it will take a very strong performance from Pace's 4th and 5th runners to keep the Knights in contention. The 2020 2A state runners-up returned all five top runners this year, but have yet to compete at full strength in 2021 with top runners Edward and George Blaha and Grant Thompson all missing races. When he has raced, Edward has run well this season clocking a 16:13 at Carrolton. He will be a factor in the individual race.
Harrison High School
Much like Blessed Trinity, Harrison seems to have held back at the Carrolton meet. But, when they have raced, they've been defeated by teams like Huntsville and Mill Creek. Harrison were runners up at the 2020 Wingfoot XC Classic, but have lost top runners Sully Shelton and Noah Connelly since then. They'll need seniors Andrew Cole and Sterling Sellier to have big runs in Cartersville to be a factor.
Other Teams to Watch:
· duPont Manual High School (Louisville, KY)
· St. Pius X
· Whitefield Academy
· Westminster School