Cross Country Star Sumner Kirsch Runs for North Atlanta Glory   


Art of Life

Dominating Dub: Junior Sumner Kirsch is making his run for glory — and school records — as the top runner on the region-leading boys cross country team.

Junior cross country standout Sumner Kirsch is already making his mark during the Dubs’ 2021 competitive running campaign. After two early-season meets, Kirsch has racked up impressive numbers and he’s eager for even more accomplishments. He’s the top runner on the seven-man boys cross country squad and is running strong enough to become one of the school’s all-time greats.  

At the Run of the Rock Invitational on Sept. 4 in Cartersville, Kirsch posted a time of 16:52 to take second place, a feat made even more impressive because it was a  grueling course. The following week — at the Carrollton Orthopedic Invitational — he posted a time of 17:18. There were 1,000 athletes in this race and he finished in the top 10 percent of all runners. Kirsch is setting for himself the ambitious goal of running 15:56 for the 5K, which would be a school record. His PR last year of 16:23 placed him 12th overall in the state among sophomore runners. His mile time of 4:28 placed him eight among all sophomores in the state. Now reaching a peak, the runner said he hopes to break multiple school records and — before he graduates — lead the Dubs to a state championship. It’s worth noting that Kirsch’s times are already surpassing the impressive numbers of North Atlanta school record holder Ethan Curnow, who graduated in 2021 and is now a scholarship cross country runner at Georgia Tech. “I’d love to get the school record and I think I can if I keep working,” Kirsch said. 

Kirsh and his team’s success is not just luck. At 5:30am — many hours before the average North Atlanta student is even up in the summer — Kirsch and the team would run around seven miles a day, doing early morning runs both along the Chattahoochee River and along Peachtree Street in the city. “It was fun running as a group, getting ready for the season,” he said.  

For their daily practices during the school year ,the team runs down to the river and through multiple trails and generally keep up a pace of running 38 to 50 miles a week. The preparation is paying off as times get faster and the team bond grows. This comes with help from the cross country’s new coach Matt Ferrel. “We have a great new coach,” said Kirsch. “He’s young and very well prepared.”

Ferrell made a name for himself during his collegiate years as a cross country runner at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, N.J.  Before coaching at North Atlanta, Ferrell previously coached cross country teams at high school Pennsylvania.  

If school record breaking is his goal, it makes sense: for Kirsch it’s a familiar pattern. He holds the school freshman records in the 800 meter event, and participated in the school record time in the 4 x 8 relay. Despite so much success in the sport, Kirsh only started running in 7th grade. “I started pretty late but working hard got me to where I am now,” Kirsh said.

The cross country season consists of six regular season meets, regionals, and state. With two impressive meets to start the season, state looks quite possible for Dubs runners. Kirsh said the North Atlanta team is likely to easily take another region crown and to do well in further state competitions. “Our goals are all out there for us,” he said. “Now we just have to execute.” 

Kirsh and his team are feeling confident about their season. Every time they show up at an open field with thousands of competitors, they continue to stay locked in. Through butterflies and jittery nerves they use that energy to throw everything into their feet and their lungs. And in the meantime, Dubs runner Sumner Kirsch continues his run for glory.