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Eastside Eagles seniors lead way at cross country state championships
Poynter and Carter State Meet
Grayson Poynter (left) and Destiny Carter (right) were the top two runners for the Eagles at the Class AAAAA state championship. - photo by Garrett Pitts

Seniors Grayson Poynter and Destiny Carter led the way for the Eastside Eagles at the Class AAAAA Georgia cross country championship Friday morning in Carrollton.

After successful runs at the Region 8-AAAAA championship, six Eastside runners qualified for the state title.

Head coach Caleb Watson talked about the work that the boys and girls teams put in during the region championship races to earn them a spot at state.

“This has been what we have been working for all season,” Watson said. “The goal was to get to state. We have the hardest region in [Class AAAAA] with Jefferson, Clarke Central and Logaville. We were a little bummed that the boys did not advance as a team. We had a few guys sick the week of the region [races] which sucked. To have Grayson, who is a four year senior, advance was huge. For the girls, they had a great race at [the] region [championship].”

The championships were held in Carrollton, and Poynter ran first as the lone boys runner for the Eagles.

The track was 5,000 meters and that spanned around Carrollton elementary and middle schools.

Poynter finished in 36th place with a time of 17:04.42. The race was the last for Poynter as an Eastside Eagle.

Following the race, Watson had nothing but great things to say about what Poynter has meant to the cross country program.

“My first year coaching was in his freshman year, and we had six kids on the team, we had no girls and six guys. He came in as a freshman and was instantly the best runner and he set the tone for the rest of the team,” Watson said. “Now we have 26 on the team, the team has grown a lot. I told him after his race, ‘Great job, this team would not be where we are without you,’ we are going to miss him, he is the hardest worker I have ever coached.”

The girls team consisted of five runners, and Carter was the one ahead for the Eagles.

Carter finished in 26th place with a time of 20:35.52. 

As the lone senior on the girls team, Watson expressed how big of a leadership role Carter has played on the team in 2023 and how she performed at the state championship.