Podium Profiles: Running Warriors Start 2020 Season Off Strong

Dennis Racket
Going the Distance: Senior Warrior runner Ethan Curnow is having a breakout season along with the entire boys cross country team. Both Dub harrier teams — boys and girls — are making a strong run for the state playoffs.

Although the reality of a full sports season has been shaky throughout the nation amidst the pandemic, the North Atlanta cross country team has hit the ground running through their first five meets. Entering the second year of his tenure as the Dubs cross country coach, Antonio McKay Jr. along with first year coach Whitney Combs will be looking to bring the team back to the promised land in Carrollton for the statewide meet this November, with aspirations for many of the North Atlanta harriers finishing on the podium.  

Thanks to impressive sub-17 minute 5k performances from senior captains Ethan Curnow and Andrew Churchill and sophomore Sumner Kirsch, the boys team finished within the top three in all of their first four meets. Following a plethora of personal records in the fifth meet at the Asics Invitational, the whole varsity team posted sub-18 minute performances. Curnow ran a spectacular 16:07 that ranks as the fastest time at North Atlanta in the past decade and a near-school record. Saturday’s meet propelled the boys team to possibly their highest ranking ever, as they now sit as the 17th fastest team in all of Georgia and 3rd fastest in 6A, putting them in tremendous shape for the upcoming region meet. Due to the region realignments — something that happens every four years — the Warriors will face off against much more favorable regional competition on Oct. 24. The Dubs will no longer have to battle for a spot in the state meet against powerhouses like Pope, Cambridge and Alpharetta, as they were all moved to different regions. “I think our chances of getting to state are amazing and I think the team will do great at state too,” said senior Foard Martin. “The team is going to continue to get better and better, and we can see that the program has a very bright future ahead.”   

The girls team has also already seen great improvement from last season, as the squad has finished within the top half of all of their races, including a top three finish at the Eagle Invitational in Jefferson on September 12. The girls have strong upside as five of the seven current varsity runners are underclassmen. The team has been led by freshman Catherine Townsend’s spectacular performances through the start of the season. In her first year as a Warrior, Townsend set the new school record for the girls 5k, running an amazing 18:30 at the Asics Invitational in Fairburn this past Saturday . Several veterans of the running Warriors think this year’s girls team has the potential to make it to the state meet for the first time in over a decade. “Everyone is working super hard and doing great,” said senior MaryLouise Jubera. “It’s definitely an honor to lead them as captain this year. The way I see things, I really think we have a shot at state.”

This year’s Warriors cross country team is setting new standards of excellence in a season that was highly in doubt. Although it could all end in a snap of a finger if there is one COVID case, the team thus far has excelled in social distancing and taking necessary safety precautions. The Running Warriors will head out to Western Douglass Country for the Atlanta Classic this Friday for the championship races in which they hope to match last week’s impressive performance at Asics. Go Dubs!