There was chatter among coaches that those two teams would be favored to win Saturday’s county meet at the Cobb County Corps Property.
Fewer expected the Marietta boys — who graduated all of last year’s starters except one — and a young Marietta girls team — which finished fifth last year — to win both titles.
The Marietta girls narrowly beat Walton, last year’s Class AAAAAA state runner-up, by five points. The Lady Blue Devils accumulated 53 points to win the meet, with Walton settling for second with 58.
Harrison (65) was third, followed by Pope (120) and North Cobb (167).
Sporting an entirely new lineup, with the exception of Jack Henderson, the Marietta boys scored 42 points to win their title. Harrison ended up second with 57 points, with Walton at 93.
Kennesaw Mountain (124) and North Cobb (156) rounded out the top five.
Last season, the Marietta boys came up three points short of winning county with a senior-laden lineup, finishing second to Walton.
On Saturday, even Marietta coach Jack Coleman seemed stunned that both of his teams ended up winning.
“We were fortunate. We had a great run,” Coleman said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be a times race. We knew it would be a race dealing with heat and conditions.”
The Marietta girls prevailed by having runners finish third, fourth and fifth overall. Kayla Dawson was the best of the bunch, taking third in 19 minutes, 30.22 seconds. Rebecca Dow was fourth at 19:39.89 and Mary Jeanne Assinzo fifth at 19:47.51.
All three runners said afterwards that this was the first county win for the Marietta girls, and they couldn’t remember the Lady Blue Devils ever beating Walton in a meet.
“We’re so excited to win (Saturday). We’ve been training our butts off for this,” Dawson said. “Our team is dedicated, and we push each other as hard as we can.”
Juanita Londono (21:07.85) and Reagan Durham (21:14.53) also chipped in for Marietta, finishing 21st and 22nd, respectively.
Pope’s Ashley Kehoe was the individual champion of the girls race, taking charge in the third mile to win in 19:03.32. Walton’s top runner, Avery Bussjager, was second in 19:10.61.
If Walton’s girls team made one mistake in the race, it was waiting too late to make their push. The Lady Raiders were more spread out with Christie Sanders (20:26.56) ninth, Madie Paulk (20:45.63) 11th, Emily Bridges (21:06.09) 18th and Caitlyn McSwigan (21:07.11) 19th.
“We sat back for much of the first mile before we made up a lot of ground,” Walton coach Travis Gower said. “(Marietta’s) three up front was too much for us to catch.”
Like their female counterparts, the Marietta boys ran in a pack.
Henderson led the way, finishing fourth in 16:15.80. He was followed by Khayvonn Benson (16:22.10) in fifth and freshman Ben Patterson (16:28) in seventh. Carlos Torres was 15th in 16:54.20 and Tim O’Connell was 16th in 16:56.30.
Walton standout Kenan Farmer won the individual meet, setting a course-record time of 15:36.40. He outraced Kell’s Logan Poteet (15:49.30) and Kennesaw Mountain’s Alex Dunlap (16:06.10).
“I was questioning whether I was going to get the record,” Farmer said, “but once I saw the clock at the finish line, I knew I had a chance.”
For the second-place Harrison boys, Jacob Cooper took sixth in 16:26.20 and Spencer Borchelt took 10th overall in 16:34.10.
The Hoyas’ remaining runners were too spread out to threaten Marietta. Ryan Brock was 13th (16:42.30), Dylan Elmy was 14th (16:43.90) and Grayson Rolf was 19th (17:01.10).