Elrod and Smith finish first in second meet in a row

Published 8:12 pm Wednesday, October 18, 2023

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Grace Christian Academy runners Walker Elrod and Tatiana Smith finished first overall at the GIAA Region 3AA championship Tuesday. Their joint first-place finish comes just three days after the Bearcats invitational, where they did the same thing.

Smith ran a 21:49.09, beating the second-place runner by three seconds. Cougar head coach and Smith’s mother, Heather Smith, said she was proud of her daughter.

“She came out of the woods leading,” Smith said. “It was like, she’s going to have to put on whatever gear she has left to the finish line. It was good,… She’s a region champ.”

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Elrod ran a 16:38.04 and finished over a minute ahead of the next runner.

“He knew he had to go out there and just run comfortably enough to win,” Smith said. “I wasn’t concerned.”

The Cougars had three other girls and six other boys compete at the regional race, all of whom ran personal bests. The men’s team finished second and punched its ticket to the state meet. 

The women’s team was one runner short of qualifying for a team score. When that is the case, individual runners can still advance to the state meet if they finish in the overall top 10. Smith secured her spot with her first-place finish, and junior Kate Poitevint qualified with a 9th-place finish and a 26:59.63 time.

“For a coach, you’re just proud because you know that they’re listening to what you’re telling them, and they’re applying it,” Smith said. “all you can ask for as a coach is to go out there and take care of business… it was a good day.”

The Cougars look to the GIAA Class AA state championship meet on Oct. 28 in Macon, GA.

“There’s not any magic you can do right now,” Smith said. “Everything we’ve done from the beginning of the season is to prep us to peak at the end of the season.”