Taylor Lord, a two-time state cross country champion at Chapel Hill, walked the course, giving encouragement in spots where his sister and brother needed it, and Ashton and Cameron Lord came through, winning their respective individual races while helping the Panthers to a sweep of the region championships.
“This is the first time we’ve had (siblings) that can win both events and obviously their brother won it, too,” Chapel Hill coach Kelly Williams said. “So they’ve got a little running dynasty in the Lord family.”
Chapel Hill’s girls, ranked fourth in Class AAA, had seven of the top-nine placers to finish with 19 team points. Coretta Scott King was second with 80 points, Callaway had 82 for third and Rockmart finished with 89 to take fourth.
On the boys’ side, No. 10-ranked Chapel Hill hit a perfect 15 for the easy team win. Chapel Hill’s seven runners all set new personal records while taking the first seven spots, led by Cameron Lord’s personal-best time of 16:16.74. Rockmart took second with 62 points, Central-Carroll posted 74 points for third and Haralson County was fourth with 117 points.
Ashton Lord, a senior, broke the 19-minute barrier with a time of 18:52.45 to win the girls’ race, a good minute and change ahead of teammates Darby Demarest’s second-place time of 20-minutes flat and Hope Kimberly’s third-place run of 20:03.52.
“My brother was yelling at me the whole time on the side, so that pushed me to keep going. It’s been my goal since freshman year to break 19, so I’m really excited,” said Ashton Lord, whose time Saturday moved her up to third in the state rankings.
Taylor Lord added: “I knew the spots where she needed to be yelled at and the spots she probably wanted to be fired up.”
Lord, Demarest and Kimberly, along with Kaneisha Mixon (6th, 20:55.90), Ciera West (7th, 20:55.95), Eyonnti Edwards (8th, 21:02.32) and Avery Rains (9th, 21:46.72) all had personal best times.
Cameron Lord beat his previous personal record of 16:17.55 by roughly a second, but Lord said he thought he could have done better and his coach agreed.
“Cameron ran a 16:16, and as a sophomore that’s a really good time,” Williams said. “But he can run a sub-16. His mile was a little too fast. He needs to relax in that first mile a little bit and then pick up the pace.”
Paul McCloud finished second for the Panthers with a run of 16:49.32, besting his previous PR by five seconds. Jamie Robinson took third with a 17:21.10, Caleb Searles was fourth with a 17:21.20, Trevor Price was fifth with a 17:41.94, Ayin Ward took sixth with a 17:46.71 and Chase Hancock was seventh with a run of 18:00.45.
Chapel Hill now moves on to the GHSA State Cross Country Championships next Saturday in Carrollton. The Lord siblings have a good shot at placing in the top 10, as does McCloud. Williams said she would be happy if her teams can finish in the spots they’re currently ranked in Class AAA.
“The things that we’ve been talking about – the little, itty-bitty things that make a difference when it comes to state championships and scoring – that’s what I’m excited about because I know the path that we’re headed down is pretty much the right one,” Williams said.