Trinity News
Trinity Boys Cross Country Wins AA State Title
December 10, 2013

The GISA Class AA boys state cross country championship trophy that's been on display at Trinity Christian the past year now has some company. The Crusaders followed last year's first-ever title in the sport with another on Saturday, easily besting the field by placing six of its seven runners in the top 10.

"It was a pretty dominating performance," said Coach Evan Winegarner, whose team had just 28 points, 80 fewer than runner-up Frederica. Trinity's girls, however, couldn't make it a second straight double as they tied for second with Frederica at 80 points. Westminster won with 53 points.  "We only had three girls returning off last year's team so we knew it was going to be hard (to repeat) against that competition," Winegarner said. "To be able to come back and do that well with basically a new team is pretty exciting."

Defending individual champion Kaleb McLeod led the stream of Crusaders across the finish line of the 3.1-mile course in Loganville. The junior posted a time of 15 minutes, 52 seconds to finish 45 seconds ahead of runner-up Joey Jenkins of Monsignor Donovan.  McLeod's time was tops among all runners regardless of class. As a team, Trinity also would've claimed the championship regardless of class.

"I put our guys' times in the scoring system and we would've won the AAA race as well," said Winegarner, whose team competed in GISA's highest class until last year. "It goes to show how hard my kids have worked. They've run against the top teams in the state in AAA the past few years and were bound and determined to make a name for themselves when we went to AA. ,"They knew the work would get them somewhere."   McLeod, who set the state record regardless of class last year as a sophomore, fell midway through Saturday's race or his time would've been more in line with the mid- to low-15 minute level Winegarner had predicted.  "The course was a little tougher than we thought and then he had the fall," the coach said. "The fall didn't cost him a lot of time, but it messed up his rhythm. And, he didn't have anybody to push him.  "He was basically in control of the race late in the first mile."  Possibly more impressive was the finish of his younger brother Jacob. The eighth-grader, who has the fastest time in the nation for his age, finished third in a time of 16:47, 13 seconds ahead of Brentwood's Jacob Burgamy, who was runner-up to Kaleb McLeod in the region meet the previous weekend.  Winegarner said all things considered, the younger McLeod's showing may have been the team's highlight of the day.  "That was a huge accomplishment for Jacob," Winegarner said. "Kaleb was expected to win. Jacob coming in ahead of Burgamy may have been more impressive for the fact even though he and I knew it was possible, nobody else gave him a chance."   Trinity runners took positions 7-10 to complete the romp led by Derek Torres (18:42). Following him were Nabel Khoja (18:46), Jake Williams (18:49) and Quillian Holland (18:51), another eighth-grader.  The Crusaders' final runner Austin Zueck was 15th in 19:46.

Junior Carly Blum led the Trinity girls, taking 10th in 21:59. Valwood's Mary Alice Smoot, running as an individual, won in a time of 19:53.  Blum was followed by Lindsey Tate (13th, 22:16), Abby Drake (18th, 23:15), May Williams (25th, 24:25), Madison Tate (38th, 26:31) and Elizabeth Heard (50th, 28:58.

Unless Winegarner misses his guess, Trinity will have to clear off a shelf in the honors case to handle other trophies likely to show up in late October the next few years.   Khoja is the lone senior on the boys team while all the girls are in lower classes. Trinity's middle school teams also won their versions of a state championship earlier this month.  "I think it could be three, four, five, maybe six straight," Winegarner said of a potential boys string. "I'm always optimistic, but I know how hard these kids work and what they're capable of doing."

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