South’s 2nd Cross-country meet: Cherokee County Classic


Used with permission from Sara Aylay

3 varsity girls. On August 22, Carmel Yonas (Sophomore), Emma O’Connor (Senior), and Isabel Yonas (Freshman) finish the race smiling as they take a group picture. The girls wore a green ribbon in memory of Trevor Lockhurst who went to South, and was on the Cross-country team.

Carmel Yonas, Opinions Editor & Senior Reporter

On a Saturday morning in late August, the sun glared down and humidity filled the air. Despite the oppressing heat, South was full of energy and anticipation for Cherokee Country Classic . Cherokee Classic has a reputation for being the fastest course South encounters every year, yet they never fail to reach personal records. As teams arrived, they could already feel the gold medals around their neck and the stiffness of the competition. Different schools set their tents up side by side, and runners envisioned where they intended to place. It was only a matter of time before the high-school races began, so spectators surrounded the field and gathered around the finish.

This meet combined varsity and junior varsity (JV), so South attempted to get as many girls as they could up in the front. Their first runner, who closed the gaps was Sophomore Carmel Yonas. She placed 3rd overall and 1st for her team. Her sister, Isabel Yonas (freshman), progressed her way throughout the race in 10th. As a newcomer, she took part and carried, being one of the leaders for varsity. Isabel surprised many and can’t wait for what the future holds, as she broke 21 minutes, and is on the road to sub 20.

Pullquote Photo

I was very shocked and full of joy when I realized that I came 2nd for South because I didn’t think that I would. I felt unsure of how I would do in the meet, and a little nervous. But, then I placed 10th overall surprisingly, and it was exciting.In the end, I was proud that I met my goal of getting under 21 minutes!””

— Isabel Yonas

14 runners away, Senior Emma O’Connor (21:27) raced to the finish, almost passing Walton High. She placed 3rd for South, and 24th overall. Freshman Molly Hanlon also concluded the race in the top 30th, coming right after Emma for her team. Hanlon may not have reached her personal goals, but is expected to pull through. Siena Brennan, a sophomore, made the cut for the top 30. She finished 29th (21:48) overall, and 5th for the team. South’s 6th varsity runner, Janisha Patel, placed 31st (22:02) in the meet. As a sophomore, Patel is on her way to be South’s number five.

Janisha shared, “Placing 6th for south girls was a good start, especially because it’s the beginning of the season. I made a mental note to stay with Siena and get a PR [personal record] which I did. I felt accomplished since I just started running in varsity, but still think I can improve throughout the season. I could’ve done better in my finishing sprint, and caught up by a second or two, but it was a great race overall.”

Transitioning to the Varsity boys, Junior Nate Verska made a stand and placed 2nd (16:34) overall. Coming in first for South Forsyth, he was only 16 seconds off from winning the meet. Next, sophomore Ben Bergey came in 11th (17:19) place and created a gap between him and the 12th runner. Additionally, Chris Wilusz, one of South’s seniors, hit 18 minutes on the dot. He finished the race in 25th place and led the other varsity boys.

A great example of staying in a pack, are Seniors Sebastian Elisan, Pujith Veeravelli, and Devin Schumuckal as they ended the race. Sebastian lead his group to the finish and placed 27th (18:02) in the meet and 4th for South. Veeravelli a second later came in 28th overall and 5th for his team, while Schmuckal sprinted to the finish line in 29th overall and 6th for South. The varsity boy’s last runner is Sophomore Owen Wargo. Exactly 10 places behind Devin, he ran under 19 minutes (18:35), and concluded the race in 39th.

South Forsyth girls and boys took on the meet headstrong. Only two meets into the season, they have a lot to look forward to and continues to impress other schools. South girls proved to be a close-knit group that earned them 4th place as a team. Their timed average totaled to 21:06, calculated from each of their individual times and averaged together. On the other hand, the boys finished 4th with a timed average of 17:36. It is a strong score for being early in the season, and will hopefully continue to improve throughout the meets. South’s never-ending drive to achieve personal records, and uplift the team got them closer to winning the state championship.