2017 saw both the boys and girls teams qualify for the State Championship. This was the first time both teams qualified for state at the same time since 2013. 2017 saw BHS Cross Country’s best finishes at the State Championship in recent history. “Overall, this was a very successful season for the Buford High School Cross Country program,” said Coach Matthew Johnson.
When asked what he thought contributed to the success of the team, he said that one factor was a large senior class that “really stepped up as leaders for our teams.” He also stated that the team had a well-balanced mix of veterans and young talent and that the team acts like a big close-knit family.
At the beginning of the season, the coach asked the runners to set up expectations. Not only for themselves but also for the team as a whole. These expectations kept them motivated this season. The runners were coached not just on the physical aspect of the sport but also the mental aspect like their attitude, the effort they put forth, knowing the process of the sport, and about being prepared. Their unofficial team motto for the season was about them giving “Nothing But Our Best”.
The coach said that they “had a lot of depth on our roster.” Training for the boys was approached with a “pack running” mentality. The boy’s top five runners returned times that were very close to each other all season long. Their best team average was 17:49. The top time results for the boys were Ben Archer, Brendon Allen, Zach Davidson, Gavin Smith, Chase Hartman, Sammy Cruz, and Aidan Smith.
On the girl’s side, the team built their season off of momentum they carried over from last season. They added several new runners that were “big impact runners” for the team. Their returning runners continued to improve each week as well. This was the second year in a row that the girls qualified for State. Their overall best team average for 2017 was 21:15. The top runners for the girls were Caroline Montini, Sarah Davis, Jordan Sullivan, Lauryn Davidson, Gabby Thacker, Melanie Mendoza, and Alyssa Shaw.
The team coaches said it was a pleasure coaching such an amazing group of young athletes and that they were extremely proud of all the accomplishments made by both teams. They look forward to continuing the gains made this season in the future.