However, Cass showed plenty of life this year, including a runner-up county meet finish led by a splendid freshman — one who gives the team hope for possibly unseating the reigning county champ.
Woodland found itself in rebuilding mode after the graduation of its top runner, while Adairsville was in the same boat with a gaggle of freshmen and a first-year coach.
Excel Christian Academy refused to be completely lost in the shuffle with a budding young runner to stand amongst the county’s best.
Without further delay, here is The Daily Tribune News All-County Boys Cross Country Team.
Roger Herrera, Cartersville junior
At the head of a talented junior class, Herrera helped make Cartersville a near lock to repeat as champions at the Bartow County meet before the season ever began. And after another first-place finish, Herrera — who ran a race of 18 minutes, 43 seconds at the meet held at Gatewood Park — puts Cartersville in position for a three-peat in 2012 when the core of the team will be seniors. In Herrera’s junior season, the two-time county champion ran 18 minutes or less in a handful events, including The Cartersville Classic at Tellus (17:42), Jesse Owens Classic (17:07, personal record), Cass-Cartersville Invitational (17:30) and the Region 7-AAA meet (17:24). After a two-year run that has seen him ascend to the top of the county, Herrera still has yet to do one thing and that is qualify for state individually as one of the top six runners in his region. He has made it to the state meet twice with his entire team, but he placed eighth in back-to-back years. Herrera will get one more crack at doing so next year as Cartersville moves to Region 5-AAA as announced by the GHSA Reclassification Committee this month.
Logan Rempe, Woodland junior
Rempe had the unenviable task of replacing Cameron Leonard, The Daily Tribune News’ All-County Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year in 2010. Though the task would have been hard for any runner in the county — no one approached Leonard’s personal record, and state-qualifying, time of 16:34 — Rempe gave a worthy attempt as he inherited Woodland’s No. 1 spot. He came in fourth place at the county meet with a time of 19:30, but just a month later at the Region 7-AAAA meet, Rempe ran his best race of the season as he turned in a personal record 17:39 for 25th place. In some other races, Rempe ran a 17:53 at the Darlington Cross Country Festival; an 18:01 at the Ridge Ferry Invitational; an 18:23 at the The Cartersville Classic at Tellus; and an 18:25 at The Dallas Classic.
Jaison Morning, Cass freshman
Morning came out strong right out of the gates for a high school career that figures to feature a number of top finishes. The freshman runner was very consistent in his runs this year, said coach Michael Durham. Morning drew notice during the Bartow County Championship when he stayed close with eventual winner Herrera for a couple of miles of the 3.1-mile race. Morning was third with a time of 19:29. The youngster’s best race of the season came in the Ridge Ferry Invitational where he ran a 17:50. Morning also slid in below the 18-minute mark at the Region 7-AAAA meet as he finished in 17:51 for 35th place. During the season Durham said Morning had plenty of ability and would continue running fast times. Along those same lines, Morning could be primed for an even bigger breakthrough in his second year.
Troy Hickom, Cartersville junior
Hickom hovered right around the No. 3 spot for Cartersville much of the season, which spoke to the team’s strength. At the county meet, he finished sixth in 20:06. Hickom’s best time of the year came at the Region 7-AAA meet when he ran a 17:53, a personal record, for 12th place. The region meet marked the only time Hickom had finished as Cartersville’s second-best runner during 2011. Of Hickom’s finish at region, coach David Matherne said, “He had a kick like he was Superman.” Hickom’s other top times of the season came at the Jesse Owens Classic (18:13), the Cass-Cartersville Invitational (18:20), The Cartersville Classic at Tellus (18:32) and at the Georgia High School Association State Cross Country Championships (18:34). With Hickom and the other class of 2013 guys back next year, Cartersville should make its 27th straight appearance in the state meet while possibly challenging for the region title.
Zach Cravey, Cartersville senior
As was the case with his teammate Hickom, the best time of the season for Cravey, a senior, came in the Region 7-AAA meet where he ran a career-best 17:54, which put him in 14th place. Cravey placed fifth at the county meet with a 19:31. In the Cass-Cartersville Invitational, the veteran runner ran one of his better times of the year with an 18:18. In his final prep cross country meet, Cravey finished with a time of 19:14 at the GHSA State Cross Country Championships, knocking about a minute off his state meet time as a junior for a 126th-place showing. While Cravey did not emerge as Cartersville’s top runner in either of his last two seasons, he always possessed the ability to put together a good performance at a moment’s notice, when it was least expected. Someone will have to slide into Cravey’s top four spot for Cartersville next season.
Lawson Crowe, Cartersville junior
Without Crowe, it would be virtually impossible for Cartersville to have made the noise it did this season, and last season. Crowe has been his team’s second-best runner the last couple of seasons, forming a potent 1-2 punch with Herrera. Just as Herrera is guaranteed to be leading the pack for Cartersville, Crowe can usually be counted on to be a few seconds behind. Running a time of 19:43 earned Crowe second place at the county meet. His best time came when he ran a season-best 18:00 at the Jesse Owens Classic. Though never able to reach his personal-best time from last year’s region meet (17:50), Crowe also had good showings this season at the Cass-Cartersville Invitational and the Region 7-AAA meet, where he ran an 18:05 both times. Another season from the steady runner means Cartersville will again be in the hunt for plenty top finishes.
Tommy Morrison, Cartersville junior
Races often come down to a team’s fourth or fifth runner, and in Morrison, Cartersville had one of the better runners down a lineup. The fourth member in Cartersville’s class of 2013, Morrison had a PR of 18:05 (82nd) at the Jesse Owens Classic and came in under 19 minutes four other times during the season. Those times include an 18:25 at The Cartersville Classic at Tellus, 25th; an 18:14 at the Cass-Cartersville Invitational, 29th; an 18:47 at the Region 7-AAA meet; and an 18:52 at the GHSA State Cross Country Championships, 103rd. After the season, Morrison competed in the Foot Locker South Regionals at McAlpine Greenway Park in Charlotte, N.C. He ran an 18:31 for 185th place.
Trent Gentry, Excel Christian sophomore
It must have been a welcome sight for Excel Christian Academy fans who watched Gentry place amongst the medalists at the Bartow County Championship with his seventh-place finish. Gentry ran the race in 20:09. Another impressive race for Gentry came in another county-based meet, the Cass-Cartersville Invitational, where he ran an 18:25. Gentry ran an 18:30 at the Ridge Ferry Invitational; an 18:47 in the Region 6-A meet at Darlington; and an 18:53 at the Georgia Highlands Invitational. He won a meet at Cedartown with a time of 22:00 at a course that is almost entirely uphill. Coach Emily Thompson said Gentry, a captain, was a hardworking leader who never stopped pushing himself to improve and pushed others to do their best as well. “I commonly heard him encourage other runners during practice and celebrate their achievements, whether big or small,” Thompson said. “He was always respectful to his coach and his teammates — a wonderful student-athlete overall.”
Jordan Morning, Cass sophomore
Along with younger brother Jaison, Jordan Morning, a sophomore, provides another runner to help anchor the Cass program in the future. Morning’s personal-best time came at the Cass-Cartersville Invitational where he ran an 18:27 and came in 41st place. Morning finished 42nd with a time of 18:29 at the Ridge Ferry Invitational; 51st with a time of 18:44 at the Region 7-AAAA meet; and 29th with a time of 19:08 at The Cartersville Classic at Tellus. Morning gave consistent effort throughout the season and had a shot at finishing near the top seven at the Bartow County Championship, but suffered a cramp around the two-mile mark. Cass finished second behind Cartersville at the county meet, and with Morning returning for his junior campaign in 2012, Cass should have something to say in regard to Cartersville’s three-peat aspirations.
James Gunnels, Cass senior
The No. 1 runner on the team as a junior, Gunnels slipped a few spots down the totem pole this season but still helped Cass to a runner-up finish at the Bartow County Championship. The four-year letterman ran the best race of his career in his prep finale at the Region 7-AAAA meet, held at Boling Park in Canton, where he placed 52nd with a time of 18:45. A few of Gunnels’ other times this season included a 38th-place finish at The Cartersville Classic at Tellus, 19:42; a 68th-place finish at the Ridge Ferry Invitational, 19:07; and a 65th-place finish at the Cass-Cartersville Invitational, 19:12.
Honorable mention: ADAIRSVILLE — Virgil Gentry, J.D. Gordon, Dakota Holt, Christian Warren; CARTERSVILLE — Ethan Alexander, Tanner Davis, Noah Harper, Celeb Jenkins, Hunter Myrick, Daniel Nally; CASS — Stephen Posey, Logan Sorenson, Edgar Victoria; WOODLAND — Carter Barrere, David Prosser, Brandon Rutledge.