Gwinnett Daily Post Article

DULUTH — After a year’s hiatus, the Peachtree Ridge Stage Races kicked off the cross country season in Gwinnett County on Saturday at River Green. Dacula’s Skylar English won the overall girls title while the North Gwinnett girls and Parkview boys won the varsity team titles. Brookwood swept the junior varsity titles on the two-mile course, which was used as a prelude to the traditional 5K or 3.1 miles standard length cross country races.

English, a senior, blistered the course in 11:58 on the warm and humid morning defeating her nearest competitor by 20 seconds.

“I’m happy,” English said. “I played soccer all summer in the heat, so I feel good about where my conditioning is right now. My goal is to be better than last year and I’ve gained a lot of knowledge which makes me smarter when I run my races.”


“We had Skylar run a two mile time trial during the summer on a morning where it was cool, nothing like this,” Dacula coach Mark Karen said. “She ran that in 12:20, so to chop that much off her time, in spite of the heat and humidity, its a good start to the season for her.”

Reese Sandler of Brookwood placed second in 12:18, while Sarah Melkerson of North Gwinnett finished third with a time of 12:23.

While English left the individuals in the dust during the meet, the same can be said for what North Gwinnett did in the team portion of the girls meet. In the five stages, the Bulldogs top runner in each stage placed first, first, first, second and third. Their eight total points was five less than runner up Lovett and nine less than third-place finisher, Brookwood.

“I think this is a good indication of how hard these girls worked during the summer,” North coach John Rowland said. “During our stage races I paired up some of the girls with like times, the ones that train together, and it seemed to work out. The biggest key now is to keep building as the length of the races and the length of the season progresses. And of course, to stay healthy.”

On the boys side, Parkview totaled 14 points to defeat runner up St. Pius (16) and third-place finisher Mill Creek (19). Parkview coach Mike Demarest was excited and surprised at the result.

“I thought we were good enough for the top 3,” Demarest said. “But Mill Creek and St. Pius, they are really good. I’m humbled by this. This is a tribute to their off season work.”

Parkview’s Christian Corsello was the top Gwinnett finisher in the boys races as the Panthers senior placed third, coming in at 10:13. Calan Gizelbach of Forsyth Central won the boys title (10:03) while Rowan Wiley of St. Pius was second (10:11).

Mill Creek coach Andy Christie felt the third-place finish by his boys was a fine starting point for the upcoming season.      Overall we did OK,” Christie said. “I paired up my runners. This was a good introductory race before we add on the distance for our next meet at Berry.”

For tournament organizer and Peachtree head coach Matt Adams, the stage races are a labor of love.

“First of all I want to thank the City of Duluth for allowing us to return to River Green which is a tremendous venue,” Adams said. “We had 18 teams this year and more coaches let me know that they will be joining us next year but were already scheduled by the time they knew about our return to River Green. Our coaches, staff and booster club come out in this heat and to make this event run so smoothly, its amazing.”