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Eastside cross country excels
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Eastside head coach Leah Carlisle and assistant coach Gary Tindall have been quietly going about revamping the cross country team, making it a contender unlike years past.

"The times have come down drastically since we started," said Carlisle. "I'm pleased with the progress, and hope we can make a lot more during the next two weeks."

Carlisle, who is in her fourth year at Eastside, is referring to the region meet at 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 3 at the Conyers Horse Park.

Meanwhile, Tindall, who ran at Auburn University during the late 70s, has been coaching cross country and track for 12 years. However, this marks his first year at Eastside. Last year he assisted with coaching duties for the Newton cross country team.

"It was another fresh team," said Tindall. "Over there Coach (Scott) Raines and I built it from the very bottom, and had some pretty good runners coming back. Here, it was kind of all over again in trying to get the kids to learn (more) and race well."

Carlisle invited Tindall to assist with the Eastside cross country program earlier this year. But the working relationship really started back in the summer during the AAU track meets.

"He's been a great asset to the team," said Carlisle.

Tindall echoed the same sentiments back to Carlisle.

"This year we feel we've had some success," said Tindall, "and I think it's the start of some really good things."

According to Tindall, Eastside's work ethic is already at a high level.

"The progress has been phenomenal," admitted Tindall. "They're training well above where they're racing. Now we're just working on getting them to race what they're training. They need to go out a little harder and I think they'll do fine."

Thanks to several key runners, including seniors Glynn Giles and Leah Owens, the Eagles have established themselves among the region ranks.

"Yeah, I think we've really come a long way," said Giles. "We have a good shot at state, which is what I'm hoping for."

Giles, a first-year runner, credits Tindall for his overall improvement in such a short period of time.

"Coach Tindall is one of the main reasons why we've improved so much," said Giles. "He has lowered my time extremely."

Carlisle has been impressed with Giles' ability to lead, despite not having that much experience.

"Glynn has just really come out and is extremely talented," complimented Carlisle. "He has his ups and downs, but I feel like he's set a good example (by) leading practice and races."

Meanwhile, Owens has worked with Carlisle for the past four years.

"Leah has been a lead runner the whole time," said Carlisle, "and has (played) an important role on the team."

Tindall only wished he had more time to work with both runners, as Giles and Owens have continued to improve their times on a consistent basis.

"Leah just kind of knows what cross country is all about," said Tindall. "Glynn, even though he's a newcomer in cross country....Wow, I wish I had him three years ago."

Overall, Owens is enjoying her best season yet.

"I'm pretty satisfied," said Owens. "We've done a lot better than we have in the past. We (had) never gotten any trophies, and we got three this year. We've been working more as a team, and we've practiced a lot harder this year."

Owens is also confident about the team's chances come time for the region meet.

"I think we'll do fairly well," said Owens. "We've been working really hard on sprints and distance."

For the boys, other notable runners include Ace Cook and Tim Guy. For the girls, Melissa Bender, Alle Haynie and Whitney Martin have also been running together consistently throughout the year.

Regarding the upcoming region meet, both Carlisle and Tindall agree that Dacula is the only team that scares them.

"The region meet is what we've been pointing toward all along," said Tindall. "Both teams I don't think have ever qualified together as a unit, and that's really been one of our goals. I think they're ready; they just need to race hard."

Should in fact the Eagles do race hard, they will qualify for state held in Carrollton, which, after all, is the ultimate prize.