GC runners reach fall finish line


Sean King

The GC men’s cross country team is wrapping up its first season since 2019. Despite missing out on a season last year due to COVID-19, the Bobcats have been running like they never stopped.


The Bobcats ran in the PBC Championship race over Halloween weekend and placed third, matching the team’s best conference finish in over a decade. The time off from Covid may have been more of a blessing than hardship for the team. The Bobcats boasted two All-PBC runners for the first time since 2018: senior Quillian Holland, who placed 13th in the championship race, and freshman Sam Hulsey, who placed 16th.


Hulsey surprised himself with his personal performance in the race. He explained that he did not believe he had been running at his best all season.


“I was surprised,” Hulsey said. “I hadn’t run as well as I thought I would the whole season, but the right things came together for this one. Everything just came together at the right time. I went out hard, stayed strong, and just tried to be competitive with it. Got a pretty good time and a pretty good place in the race.”


Being a part of the team has proved a big change for Hulsey. Coming to the team as a freshman from a small high school in northern Georgia, he has had a lot to adjust to. Nonetheless, he remains very happy he chose to run with the Bobcats.


“It’s been a bit of a culture shock,” Hulsey said. “I came from a pretty small school in Dawson County. I’ve been used to being a ‘big dog’ on campus, and it’s humbling to be a freshman again.”


The Bobcats chose to opt-out of the season last year, but they bounced back this fall, recently cracking the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Southeast Region Poll for the first time this year.GC took the 10th spot in the region after their showing at the championship race.


Senior Thomas Hall is really proud of how far the team has come along during his four-year career. He explained how proud he is to be a part of the Bobcat squad


“It was ultimately a good choice to not participate last season,” Hall said.  “Coach Staton is always looking out for us and our wellbeing.  We’ve worked hard, and we have a really good team. I think that shows in our ranking. We’ve earned it.”


Last season, GC Athletic Director Wendell Staton took on the role of head coach of both the men’s and women’s cross country teams. Considering the teams did not compete last year, this season has marked Staton’s first competitive season as head coach. Staton explained how coaching the team has served as more of a gift than a challenge.


“It has just been fantastic,” Staton said. “It’s been the best professional experience of my life because as Athletic Director, I didn’t get to coach the teams anymore. Just to have that daily interaction again has been the most rewarding thing about it. It brings you back to exactly why we all got into this business: to give them a great experience. We have such an incredible group of people and an amazing culture. It really is the highlight of my day to get to go to practice every day.”


This past weekend, the Bobcats came in 12th place at the NCAA Southeast Regional race Saturday, Nov. 6. The race wrapped up the GC cross country season for good. After a successful comeback campaign for both teams, the runners will look forward to another successful return in the fall of 2022.