Chamblee XC Crosses the Finish Line to a Successful Season


The CCHS XC team at state.

Shay Martin and James Hardy

On October 26, the Chamblee Charter High School cross country team competed at the regional meet against several other schools from around the county. The girls’ team finished in first and the boys’ team got second. 

“It honestly all boil[ed] down to one day. We train[ed] during the summer and we’ve trained for 12 weeks, but it only really matter[ed] how we [did] compared to the region teams. We try to get the kids in shape, we try to stay injury free, and we want the runners to run their best races,” said Coach Jennifer Tinell. 

This season has been one of the best for CCHS. With so many freshmen and sophomores running, it’s safe to assume that CCHS cross country will stay on top for years to come. 

“We did not know that we would have so many younger runners, 9th and 10th graders, for the boys and the girls. On the boys side, the 10th and 11th graders have really improved. For the girls, we’ve got ninth graders that we never dreamed of, so we are really excited with how successful we have been this season. We want to enjoy this season, but we’re also already really excited about 2020,” said Coach Tinnell.

Two of the best timed runners this season, junior Diego De Alba and senior Hattie Carter, were unfortunately injured, and could not run in regionals or state. 

“I have a stress fracture, which basically comes from me just running way too much over the season, we were running about like seven miles a day at one point, so that’s basically where it came from,” said Carter. 

After the regional meet, the state meet on Friday, November 1 was held in Carrollton, Georgia. The Bulldogs raced against Clarkston High, who scored first over the CCHS boys at regionals.

“Carrollton is a pretty tough course. It definitely separates the men from the boys. It’s about who’s in the best shape and who has the biggest heart at that state meet,” said Tinnell.

The  team left state with some of the state’s highest accolades. The boys placed ninth in the AAAAA division, while the girls placed 14th. This success was largely due to standout performances from many underclassmen.

“Everybody was upset, obviously, that the [DeAlba and Carter] were not there and it was really just kind of bizarre that that happened, but that also showed the depth of our team,” said Coach Tinnell. “Even without them, we ended up qualifying and doing really well. Some of the standouts at the state meet were [underclassmen]. Our number one girl, Abby Barnes, is a freshman, which is outstanding. Our number two girl, Anna Zhi, is a freshman. Our number three girl, Lydia Traynelis, is also a freshman. And then the boys were the same way and we only had one senior boy in the top seven.”

The uneven age distribution led to a team culture that presented unique challenges as well as some surprising benefits.

“It was a lot more hectic than it usually is,” said Burgett. “But actually, it’ll be better because there are a lot of juniors who will be seniors next year.

Coach Tinnell views this as a positive aspect of the team as she predicts that the younger group will continue to be successful.

“So now we’re totally pumped as long as we can just keep those kids interested,” said Tinnell. “It’s awesome, looking forward for the future of the team.”

Coach Tinnell believes that the team’s success can partially be attributed to team bonding before state.

“The team really bonded very well, which is what we needed,” said Tinnell. “In the past I think that’s been one of our weaknesses, is that some of the top varsity kids are not all running together, but we need more of that and it needs to start in August, not later in the season.”

As one of the aforementioned underclassmen at the meet, freshman Lydia Traynelis felt the effects of welcoming atmosphere.

“It helped a lot,” said Traynelis. “The upperclassmen helped us really come together and made it a different experience than it would have been without team bonding. It really changed the vibe and we all got really close. I think that was really beneficial.”

Burgett agreed that the team bonding contributed to a very positive atmosphere in Carrollton.

“We just had fun together,” said Burgett. “On the bus over we played games, we went out to dinner together, we went to the pool at the hotel. And I think that like pulled us closer together as a team, and everybody was cheering everybody on.”

The Bulldogs have finished another great season, even in the face of adversity, and have proven once and for all that there is always room for growth.

“In the past four years, the boys and the girls have both qualified to go to state, based on how we do in the region, so getting to state has been similar,” said Tinnell. “The way they performed this year was exceptional based on the past four or five years. Leaps and bounds.”