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Pitts, Yellow Jackets blazing a trail
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The Southeast Bulloch boys' and girls' cross country teams pose for a group photo prior to competing in last week's Region 1-AAA meet. Quinn Pitts stole the show in the boys' meet, claiming first place overall. - photo by Special to the Herald

BROOKLET - Southeast Bulloch cross country runner Quinn Pitts is as humble as they come, which is pretty impressive considering his recent accomplishments.

Not only is Pitts one of the more consistent runners for the Yellow Jackets, but in the region finals, Pitts was able to place first in region for the third year in a row with a time of 16:59 in the 5k run.

The senior runner said he's trying to make the best out of his season and is ready for the state competition today in Carrollton.

"It seemed like three years in a row was a bit harder," Pitts said. "I worked really hard in practice and worked harder at workouts to get better."

Pitts also helped lead the boys cross country team to its second consecutive second place finish.

Pitts said he and the other runners have developed a close bond and are a very close knit family. At region, Drew Hawkins and Zach Clifton placed 8th and 9th respectively.

Last year the boys finished 14th overall. This year, Pitts said the team wants to place in the top 10.

"Our boys team really pulled together (this year) and we're closer than in previous year," Pitts said. "Our competitors at region got fifth so we want to finish around them."

Quinn's mother, Laurie Pitts, is a coach on the cross country team and has similar expectations for her runners.

As a coach, she said the work ethic of the boys team makes her job easy.

"They want the first place so bad they can taste it. They've really been working so hard to pull their times down," Laurie Pitts said. "It's funny to watch them at times. The boys are all about numbers. They have goals and they're looking long term. They really want a top-10 finish.
"They pull and push each other. Even during their workouts they will scold each other. they police everything. They'll do it in such a way that it doesn't really hurt each other's feelings."

Laurie Pitts started coaching cross country at Southeast Bulloch three years ago and said over the years the boys have become more of a family instead of a group of runners.

"It's not something I expected," Laurie said. "They've really become a family and they even help each other work on their vehicles after school."

As for the girls, their season is over. The team missed heading to the state playoffs by just two points.

The girls' squad struggled with numbers throughout the season, but got a huge boost when Hannah Mathias, Darcie Guentzel and Victoria Pacheco joined the team. At the time, SEB girls cross country had just four runners-one runner shy of qualifying for region competition. Adding Mathias, Guentzel and Pacheco allowed the team to have a legitimate shot at advancing.

"In a funny way, it changed the dynamics of the team," Laurie Pitts said. "It was a learning experience for everybody. We needed five runners to score and we only had four runners so it put them in a bind. It was a new experience. It was beautiful as a coach to watch. It taught everybody patience and pride."

That pride was on full display at region. Hattie Pitts finished in third place overall while Kaitlyn Higgs finished 16th out of 63 runners. The Lady Yellow Jackets placed fifth overall.

"I'm very proud of all of them. I work with them so hard and they've really put the work in," Laurie Pitts said.

Horace Holloman may be reached at (912) 489-9408.