CARROLLTON — Creekview’s Makena Gates fell just short a third straight Class AAAAAA state championship, finishing as the runner-up in Friday’s state meet.
Gates crossed the line in 18 minutes, 49.98 seconds, finishing second to Richmond Hill’s Kayla Gholar (18:27.49).
Gates spent most of the race in a close battle with Gholar and the eventual third-place finisher, Douglas County’s McKenna Croft (19:06.41). Croft fell behind after about a mile, leaving Gholar and Gates to go head-to-head.
Gholar, however, pulled together a surge after the 2-mile mark, and Gates was unable to keep up after that.
“At the beginning, it was the three of us and, soon after that, it was the two of us,” Gates said. “I could tell, when we went up Separation Slope, that (Gholar) was picking up the hills, and I just got to stay with her. But she started to pick it up some more, and I just couldn’t stay with her. She just took off and from there and (the gap) just kept getting bigger and bigger.”
Despite seeing her title run end, Gates expressed no regrets.
“I felt I did pretty well,” the junior said. “I knew going into this race that it was going to be harder, just because we had Kayla and McKenna Croft, too, and all these girls are really fast. So I knew it was going to be harder this year, and I wasn’t expecting (to win another state title) or anything, so I’m happy with second place.”
Gates, the only Cherokee County runner on the podium with a top-10 finish, led Creekview — which finished third in last year’s meet — to an eighth-place finish with 255 points. River Ridge was ninth with 285 points.
Cambridge won the team title with 105 points and was joined on the podium by Allatoona (114), Pope (116) and Johns Creek (130).
In the boys race, Creekview finished 11th with 341 points, while River Ridge had 442 points to place 17th.
Harrison (52) was the champion, followed by Pope (56), Cambridge (127) and Alpharetta (156).
The state meet concluded Saturday, with the Etowah girls team and Cherokee runners Dominick DeLillo and Lexi Pavese competing in the Class AAAAAAA races.