Hawks named cross country state champions

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It’s not your usual way to take a bath but it’s a lot more fun when you earn a state title. Head Coach Andy Christie gets the traditional Gatorade bath issued to head coaches by their players after winning a championship. For the Paper.

The Mill Creek High School boys’ cross country team earned the state championship on Nov. 10 in Carrollton. Eric Westog led the pack for the Hawks with a time of 16:04.76 and Tyler Woodrome was not too far behind, finishing 16:14.54. Peachtree Ridge High School finished in the top two spots but Mill Creek had six runners finish in the top 20. Mill Creek was also crowned region champs earlier this season.

Prior to the start of the meet, Head Coach Andy Christie offered some encouraging words for his troops before they set out on their quest for the state title.

“To motivate the team, I told them they’d trained for the moment and that they were ready,” Christie said. “I also told them that no matter what happened that I was proud of them. I reminded them that if they ran for each other, that they would do just fine.”

As the meet began to come to a close, inquiring minds were in a nail-biting situation as they stood by and watched the results but the Hawks didn’t celebrate too early.

“I had a good feeling after the race, but I told the boys we were not going to celebrate until we saw the official results. When we finally saw them, words can’t describe the excitement, relief and pure joy we all felt,” said Christie.

The season has been filled with some ups and downs. The Hawks had to heal from a significant loss on top of other adversity they faced throughout the year. The drowning death of Mill Creek graduate Tajay Hoppines, who had been a member of the 2011 state title team prompted the team to dedicate this season to Hoppines’ memory. Mill Creek could have had a downtrodden season due to the situations surrounding them but they prevailed when it counted the most.

“I’m so proud of the boys and what they accomplished. We faced adversity with the death of their former teammate Tajay, and during the season we also faced illness and injuries. But they rose above it all, were motivated to run for Tajay and got the job done. I’m just proud that I could help them achieve something that they will remember for the rest of their lives,” Christie stated.

It’s never to early too start thinking about next year and it looks as though the Hawks have a strong host of players returning and, for now, the Hawks will relish that fact that they can send a couple of their seniors out on top.

“We only have two seniors on the team so the future looks bright. I am thrilled that Matt Tippins and Sven Hope get to go out as state champs,” said Christie.