That pack was among the front the entire length of Saturday’s county championships at the Cobb County Corps Property and never dropped back, helping the Lady Raiders win the race convincingly with 38 points.
Walton had all seven of its runners place in the top 20, making it difficult for any team to stop the Lady Raiders.
“They did what they were supposed to do and performed very well,” Walton coach Travis Gower said.
Lassiter was a distant second with 100 points, but Morgan Ainslie was the individual champion in 18 minutes, 45.87 seconds. Teammate Marcie Merriman was fourth in 19:09.84.
The other top placers in the girls race were relatively close apart. Harrison was third with 112 points, followed by North Cobb (118) and Marietta (131).
Unable to keep up with Ainslie after the second mile, Walton’s Alexa Womack settled for second overall and led the Lady Raiders with a time of 18:51.45.
Erin Radcliffe was sixth (19:29.65), and then came the bulk of the Walton pack. Katie Sanders was ninth (19:37.64), Sara Hardin 10th (19:38.89), Cristina Gnecco 11th (19:41.40) and Avery Bussjager 12th (19:48.89). Emily Bridges was also in the top 20 at 17th (20:25.75).
Other teams had runners sprinkled through the top 10.
Allatoona’s Emily Dunn was third in 19:03.13, North Cobb’s Tyra Holloway was fifth (19:14.39), Harrison’s Elise Bray took seventh (19:30.76) and Hillgrove’s Claire Warren was eighth (19:33.47).
Ainslie and Womack paced each other for the first half of the race, with Dunn, Holloway and Warren also near the front early on. Once the race reached the second-mile mark, Ainslie took advantage of some small downhills on the third loop to gain a bigger lead over Womack.
A stronger starter than a finisher, Womack couldn’t build enough momentum late in the race to catch up, and Ainslie went on to prevail after finishing third in last year’s race.
“Having the experience definitely helps,” Ainslie said. “I thought to myself, ‘If I’m in second place (at the end of the third mile), I might as well go for it,’ and I found another gear in my kick.”