The Lakeside boys and girls teams swept the Region 2-AAAAA Cross Country Regional at Wildwood Park on Saturday afternoon, leading a bevy of Columbia County squads to the 2012 GHSA State Cross Country Championships.
With the top four teams in each division advancing to next Saturday’s meet in Carrollton, Ga., the Panthers’ boys won with 30 points, followed by Greenbrier (41) and Evans (91). The Panthers girls won with 27 points, followed by Evans (57) and Greenbrier (61).
The top six runners in each division also qualified.
The wins didn’t come easy for Lakeside.
One of the Panthers’ top-five runners, Brian Stokes, fell shortly after the race began and was out, while second-place finisher Chase Fowers (16:22) and fifth-place finisher Christian Bowles (17:15) had to be helped through the finishing chute.
For Lakeside, Eric Stokes (16:54) took third, Mitchell Beck (17:21) was seventh and Kevin Howard (18:23) saved the day with his finish, Lakeside head coach Jerry Meitin said.
“Kevin Howard stepped up for us today,” said Meitin. “When we needed him he came through with a 13th-place at the region meet.”
The individual race came down to Fowers and Evans’ Justin Weegar.
Weegar (16:17) held the lead for nearly all of the race’s first half, while Fowers led virtually all of the second half.
It came down to the finish.
“For a while I thought he (Fowers) was going to beat me, then I pulled neck-and-neck the last 200 meters and then I just turned it on the last 100 meters and beat him at the end,” said Weegar.
At a previous meet at Wildwood Park, Lakeside’s Sarah Bowles had cruised easily to victory and was a considered front-runner for the girls individual title. Bowles (20:15) finished second Satudray behind Houston County’s Megan Asadian (19:36).
“It definitely wasn’t a good day for me,” said Bowles. “I’m really focusing on next week and moving past this.
She was happy with the way the team performed.
“I was really excited about how our team did,” Bowles said. “It was very promising. So we should definitely be up there next week.”