Pickens Preview XC: Sofo takes the dub

Boys+varsity+meet.+Junior+Ben+Bergey+leaps+to+the+finish%2C+leaving+Nate+only+a+few+seconds+behind.+Bergey+excitedly+pointed+his+fingers+up%2C+and+showed+the+sign+for+number+1+milliseconds+before+he+crossed+the+line.

Used with permission by Marc Logan

Boys varsity meet. Junior Ben Bergey leaps to the finish, leaving Nate only a few seconds behind. Bergey excitedly pointed his fingers up, and showed the sign for number 1 milliseconds before he crossed the line.

Carmel Yonas, Opinions Editor and Sports Editor

On Saturday, August 21, the South Forsyth Cross-country team arrived at the bus early in the morning with their eyes struggling to stay open. As they departed from school, excitement and uneasiness filled the buses, quickly jolting the runners awake. In total, 24 teams made an appearance at the Pickens Preview cross-country competition.  Runners stretched and went for light jogs as coaches advised newcomers and the crowd stood with animated faces; Cross-country season was back. 

Overall, South’s team relished in multiple victories as two of their varsity boys finished the race in first and second place. With ease, junior Ben Bergey and senior Nate Verska took the lead right as the gun fired, and stayed ahead of the other schools all the way to the finish. Unfortunately, there could only be one winner. Bergey pulled through and eventually took an obvious lead into first place. 

“Coming into the race I was feeling confident because I just came off the best training block of my life,” Bergey said. “Everything went super smooth over the summer, and I felt that I had a serious chance to win. During the race, I felt great for the first mile because it was super relaxed, but eventually, I reached the 3rd mile and zoned out. I regret not focusing in because I would’ve pushed through, but I’m very happy overall”.

Portrayed as an underdog for South since his freshman year, Bergey never received “spotlight” because of all the competition with South’s upperclassmen at the time. Now, Ben is one of South’s top runners and isn’t afraid to show his work throughout the years; he even achieved a personal record (PR) of 16:05 for a 5k.

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I felt overjoyed about my placement for the first meet of the season because I worked hard, and hope to do even better next meet! The tension between my place and first was palpable, I was only inches away and never gave up. My sister Carmel truly motivated me the most during the race; I wanted to stay up there with her, so she kept me moving and was a great pacer.”

— Isabel Yonas

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“I was feeling super motivated to win for a few reasons. One reason is that an article was published on the class 7A state contenders. Although my name was mentioned, I was discounted as more of a threat for helping the team, rather than trying to win individually. So, going into the race I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder, and I was ready to prove people wrong,” Bergey says.

The South Forsyth varsity girls were runner-ups as a team and achieved amazing results individually. Junior Carmel Yonas won the meet, with a time of 19:28. With a 25-second gap from second place, South’s sophomore Isabel Yonas followed. Isabel’s long-term goal for the season is to win the state championship, and her performance so far already guarantees a potential 7-A champion.

Back to the varsity boys, Ben Winn surprised the crowd and placed 25th with a time of 17:50. He finished as South’s third runner and is expected to break 17:30 by the end of the season. Another freshman following in his footsteps is Wyatt Longstreth, he placed 63rd and completed his first high-school race in 18:37. Throughout his run Longstreth achieved a negative split, meaning he was faster every mile, and that helped him finish in the top 100. 

Two places behind, junior Harris Garmon sprinted to the finish line and ended in 65th place with a time of 18:42. Garmon, a veteran of South’s Cross-country team, trained hard during the summer and is determined to break 17:00 this season. From the JV boys, freshman Grant Gibson finished 17th (19:52), and junior Neeti Jain concluded the JV girls race in 30th place.

South’s first race, Pickens Preview, opened their Cross-country season with remarkable performances that are sure to go down in the books. The top varsity boys and girls finished number one and two, as well as unexpected outstanding performances from South’s novice runners. This meet concluded the team’s eventful results and foreshadowed what’s to come as the whole county keeps a watchful eye.