Jeff Hurndon Photography
Union Grove coach Eric Daugherty looks to have his team battle-tested by the time region and state meets come up this season. The girls’ team is the five-time defending county champion.
Names to remember
Shannon Milken, Stockbridge: Last season, she placed 64th at the Class AAA state meet. She is expected to battle for one of the top spots at county.
India Milling, Eagle’s Landing: The senior will be counted on to provide leadership for young team. Her best time from last season was 20:55, which placed her 26th at the Class AAA meet.
Kira Bohlke, Union Grove: The senior is expected to become more of a leader this fall as the Lady Wolverines go for their fifth straight team title.
Brian Cato, Eagle’s Landing: The junior will be counted on to be a leader for the Golden Eagles this season. Eagle’s Landing coach is expecting breakout season.
Brandon Cromer, Union Grove: With the departure of Eagle’s Landing’s Bailey Roth, he has emerged as the top contender for the top spot in the county this season.
Erik Roberts, Ola: Only a sophomore, he is quickly emerging a contender not only in county but in the region.
On paper, Union Grove coach Eric Daugherty says that cross country in the county appears to be down.
But a closer look, the coach admits, tells that there is talent, but many of the runners are underclassmen.
“The last three years, it has really been competitive here,” said Daugherty, who enters his 12th season in Henry County. “It has really been outstanding. It might be down a little this year because so many runners and teams are so young.”
Last season, the county experienced great success with an individual champion and state runner-up at the state meet. A team from the county won its region and three area teams finished in the top 10 at the state meet in their respective classifications.
Another high mark for the county was that nine runners secured college scholarships.
“The sport has risen and fallen some over the years,” Eagle’s Landing coach Claud Spinks said. “We have teams and individuals that are making their mark state-wide.”
Spinks lost two of the state’s top runners when defending Class AAA champion Bailey Roth moved out of state this summer. His sister, Gabby, was also a top runner.
With the Roth’s departure, many believe that the county titles are up for grabs.
However, on the boys’ side, many are pointing to Union Grove senior Brandon Cromer as the early season favorite.
“He should have a very strong senior season,” Daugherty said.
And team-wise, Union Grove boys could have a special season. In addition to Cromer, the Wolverines also have senior Drew Smith returning.
Eagle’s Landing junior Brian Cato looks to shave some time off his personal-best of 17 minutes, six seconds to challenge Cromer for individual top honors in the county. The Golden Eagles might still be a little too young to challenge for the team title.
“We have a lot of good young kids that have put in a lot of work this summer,” Spinks said.
Spinks is expecting seniors India Milling and Devonte Hill to lead a young group of runners on the girls’ team this season.
The coach believes that a tough schedule leading up to region will help prepare his young team for competition this season.
“It is all about getting ready for region and state,” Spinks said.
Daugherty said pride will be a big factor for his girls team this fall as they have won the last five county titles.
“This group doesn’t want to be the one to have that string broken,” he said. “We got to have some runners step up and take on a big role.”