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VanGorder runs away from the competition
Statesboro boys, girls take second place at Invitational
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    Statesboro High's Morgan VanGorder ran away from the competition Wednesday, posting a time of 20:54, 49 seconds ahead of the nearest runner to win the 3rd Annual Statesboro Invitational, Wednesday at Mill Creek Regional Park. VanGorder helped the SHS varsity girls team to a second place finish overall in a 10-team competition.
    "I think the main thing was that I was just familiar with the course," said VanGorder of her winning run. "We usually run this course once a week, so I think that was a big advantage."
    Statesboro and nine other teams came to Mill Creek Wednesday to run the 5000K (3.125 mile) race. Brunswick, Dublin, Harlem, Hephzibah, Metter, Savannah Christian, Savannah Country Day, South Effingham and Washington County all took part in the contest. South Effingham took the girls varsity team title and Savannah Country Day brought in third.
    On the boys side, Statesboro's Paul Welle battled a stomach illness to place fourth with a time of 17:38.
    "I knew I wasn't going to do that well," said Welle, a senior, holding his stomach. "It's a flat course, but this is probably the worst race I've had all year. I mean it's OK, everyone is going to have bad races...another day another race."
    Welle added he was also disappointed he and the Devils couldn't perform better against Hephzibah, a school Welle titled as 'a rival'.
    The Rebels of Hephzibah took home the first place trophy on the boys side and Bobby Armenta won the race with an individual time of 16:49. Savannah Christian rounded out the top three with a third place finish.
    "I thought (SHS) did great," said Statesboro head coach Helen Welle-Graf. "Second place out of ten teams is a real good showing ."
    Second place is even better considering Welle, Welle-Graf and VanGorder all considered this race a tune-up for the all-important region and state meets.
    "These meets really don't count towards anything, they're kind of like practice," said Paul.
    Added Helen: "It's very good practice, I like to look at these as practice. We do try to pull in top teams with top runners from around the region to give us a good practice."
    VanGorder reiterated those sentiments.
    "Especially at this point in the season, this is just one more meet," she said. "It's good experience and good to try and drop your time."
    The Blue Devils will be in action on Wednesday, returning to Mill Creek for a 4 p.m. boys start and a 4:30 p.m. girls start.
    Chad Bishop can be reached at (912)-489-9404.