There are two meets left before the Class 6A region meet, and the Brunswick High and Glynn Academy cross country teams have each had strong performances this season.
After the region expanded this offseason, the competition grew with it. Both the boys and girls teams have recorded solid times and a few personal bests.
Both Brunswick coach Tommy Bartolotta and Glynn coach Chris Gunter said, considering the region has gotten tougher.
“We’re running in a very competitive region with arguably the best team in the state, Richmond Hill and the top team in the state, South Effingham,” Bartolotta said. “Glynn Academy has done very well this year too with some of their runners. We got a very tough region this year for South Georgia. We’re the third-best team in the region as of now.”
“All runners are getting better times each meet and continue to set personal records,” Gunter said. “We are focused on getting a higher ranking in the region by the end of the season and working towards setting a new team record when we go to state in November.”
Brunswick’s boys have won five of seven meets they’ve competed in and placed third in the other two. There have been two meets so far in October, and the Pirates have performed well.
The last meet they competed in was Oct. 8 in Richmond Hill, where the Pirates finished third out of 16 teams. Matthew Metty led the way as he finished 14th with a 17:55 time. Binh Nhhien Do finished 17th (18:13), Sammy Malanado 20th (18:42), 27th Ryan Thomas (19:02) and 29th place was Thomas Clay (19:05).
Before that, the Pirates traveled to Jesup and got first out of 17 teams. Binh Nhien Do finished 4th overall and received a medal for his 17:40 time. Metty finished 8th overall (17:59), Malanado 10th (18:07), Thomas 17th (18:35), and Clay finished fifth highest for the Pirates at 22nd (18:41).
Bartolotta said the biggest thing that’s improved from last season is that every runner performs well instead of just the top three or four runners.
“I think the reason why we’ve been winning is that our fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh runners have been doing really well,” Bartolotta said. “The back end runners are running very well and close to the top three runners within like a minute or a minute half. Last year, it might have been three minutes, now it’s close.”
Bartolotta said the Do brothers have improved the most from last season, but his freshmen runners, Thomas and Clay, have gotten better as the season progresses.
Glynn Academy’s boys and girls have also competed well this season, including a win, a few second and third place finishes.
The Terrors boys finished 4th out of 17 teams and 108 runners while the girls finished 4th out of 10 teams with 78 runners at the Richmond Hill meet.
For the boys, Philip Bulato finished 4th overall with a 17:04 time and received an award for finishing in the top seven. Parker Sams got 22nd (18:48), Javier Valencia 39th (18:58), Joesph Barnes was 39th (19:54) and Griffin Lee 48th (20:11).
Charley Podlesny finished the high runner for the girls’ team. She received an award and placed 6th overall with a time of 22:13. Lexie Alberson finished 22nd (22:42), Rachael Walter was 27th (24:59), Hunter Bisesi was 34th (25:39), and the fifth-highest finisher for the girls was Brianna O’Brien in 47th place with 26:28.
In the Jesup meet, the boys finished 3rd out of 17 teams with 146 runners competing, and the girls finished 2nd out of 13 teams with 112 participants.
Bulato finished 2nd overall (16:22) — setting a personal and new school record for the boys 5k.
Valencia finished 3rd (17:08), Sams was 14th (18:16), Joe Barnes 27th (19:03) and rounding out the top five was Griffin Lee in 45th (19:38).
Podlesny finished 4th overall (21:16), and Alberson finished 12th (23:06). Walters was 20th (24:03), Bisesi finished 24th (24:43) and rounding out the top five was Trinity Cooper in 28th place (25:11).
Gunter said their group of captains and seniors had been a key to their success.
“They have rallied the team together from the start and helped the younger runners meet their goals,” Gunter said. “The mentorship that takes place between the veteran runners and younger runners has absolutely contributed to our success this season. This team has had such a strong bond for years that allows them to push each other every season.”
Gunter said they’ve had multiple runners improve this season.
“We’ve had multiple first-year runners improve their times tremendously,” Gunter said. “Some have improved their race times by over 5 minutes. That’s a hard feat to accomplish for these runners. Some of these runners include Will Garrett, Maxwell Wakeland, Gregory Salinas, Hunter Bisesi, Joe Barnes, and Trinity Cooper.”
Both schools will compete on Thursday in Wayne County and then on Oct. 15 in Effingham County as they fight for region rank. Then these two groups will compete in the region meet in Richmond Hill on Oct. 29.