SOFO Cross-country Heads Into Another State Championship


Used with permission from Sara Aylay

Varsity girls. As the varsity girls get ready to run, their teammates hold up signs to cheer them on. Junior varsity (Jv) runners along with returning alumni helped make signs for each varsity runner.

Carmel Yonas, Opinions Editor & Senior Reporter

On Saturday, November 7th, South Forsyth High’s Cross-country team officially made it to the Georgia High School Association state championships and competed in Region 7A events. The sunny and windy weather gave way for outstanding competition within the different regions (1A, 2A, 3A…) and ultimately created a perfect day to bring victory to the Eagles’ nest.

Unfortunately, the boys varsity team did not qualify at the region meet, breaking the 8-year streak of securing a spot to run at state. However, senior Nate Verska (16:01) placed second and junior Ben Bergey (16:30) sixth at the regional competition, individually qualifying them to state.

The girls varsity qualified for state as a team and placed second. Two of their top runners place first with junior Carmel Yonas (18:31) and third with sophomore Isabel Yonas (19:01). The veterans were excited to have an opportunity to compete at state again, and encouraged the new varsity runners to give it their all.

For the girls’ team, junior Carmel Yonas placed second overall with a time of 19:20 and sophomore Isabel Yonas finished sixth with a time of 19:45.

Considering the pressure to end the season as one and two, both the Yonas sisters ran exceptionally well at state. As a freshman, Isabel placed in the top ten (ninth) for state last year and improved three places as a sophomore this year. She hopes to be in the top three next season, and to run even faster than her sister Carmel.

After Isabel, junior Caroline Turner finished the race 60th with a time of 21:27. Turner began her season coming out of an injury from the previous year, and achieved a personal record (PR) of 20:15 throughout the season. 

“It was nice to get a regular season here in Georgia. In Illinois our season last year was abbreviated because of the COVID-19 restrictions so I struggled with the inconsistency. Cross-country is a sport of building from year to year, so coming to Georgia was like starting over.

— Caroline Turner

In general, Turner feels happy about her season but strives to do better. She plans to work hard during the off-season of Cross-country to prepare for Track and Field, and slowly work her way back to performing at a competitive level next year. Turner wants to be a leader on the team and push other members to be great. She’s going to work hard, be accountable, and set an example for the underclassmen going forward.

Coming 77th and 78th, sophomore Molly Hanlon and junior Janisha Patil crossed the finish line only milliseconds apart. Hanlon, with a time of 21:45:13 at state, went through the season in tip top shape. Her times remained very consistent and she almost broke 21 minutes at region. Patil ran a time of 21:45:28, and concluded her season steady as well. Although she didn’t reach her PR of 19:57, Patil came close in a couple of meets, and closed the gaps at state.

Senior Nate Verska competed in the boys class 7A and placed fifth overall with a time of 16:26. Throughout the summer and season, Verska worked hard to run with no regrets and pushed himself by coming second place to Ethan Ashley from Denmark at region. Verska ran his final season well, and broke the school record at Coach Wood with his teammate Ben Bergey. Even though Verska may not have accomplished all of his goals for the season, he impacted the team in a positive way and showed them the characteristics of a solid leader.

Overall, South concluded the GHSA state championships on good terms, and will hopefully have the chance to return next season. The girls and boys varsity faced the perks of a two-loop course with hills: exhaustion and determination. Junior Carmel Yonas raced in not the best conditions, while sophomore Isabel Yonas followed closely in her footsteps.  Senior Nate Verska dug his spikes into the ground, not losing sight of fourth place and the willingness to finish in the top five.

South overcame their hardest race of the year, and still had individual top ten placement. Now, the team prepares for Track and Field season and begins to rest as cold weather starts kicking in.