TIFTON -- The Tift County Lady Devils cross country team will leave this morning en route to Carrollton for the state cross country meet to be held tomorrow morning at the hilly Carrollton High School course. The Lady Devils will also be joined by Devil runner Elliott Sumner, who earned a spot in the state meet after finishing third overall in the Region 1-AAAAA championships.

Coach Patti Barber's team is fresh off its' 10th straight region championship. Barber said the Lady Devils and Sumner are looking forward to the trip.

"They are all excited about going to state," Barber said.

The coach went on to add that she feels the state meet will be a fitting culmination of the team's work this year.

"It has been a great season. Both the girls and the boys have worked hard this season. I just wish the entire boys team had qualified for state. I am very proud of both teams," said Barber.

At the state meet, the Tift runners will have a simple goal.

"We want to improve our times from last year," Barber said.

To that end, Barber will be counting on her team's leaders.

"We have had different leaders every race, but Mary Crumley tends to be our main leader. However, it is a team effort, no matter what," Barber stated.

Crumley, a junior, led the Lady Devils at the region as she finished fourth overall. Tift had seven runners among the top 15 in the league. The others were Katy York, Amanda Cawley, Brittany York, Sarah Loepker, Allysen Harten and Ronni Smith. Among those runners, Harten is the team's only senior.

Sumner's third place finish earned him the trip to the state. At the region meet, not only do the top two teams advance to the state, the top six overall runners also earn a spot at the state meet.

With so much success, Barber wanted to thank those who helped her and the team this season.

"I have an excellent coaching staff that made this season as successful as it was. Thanks goes out to Mary Jo Townsend, Lisa Thompson and Mike Beeman for their time and effort in helping me this season," Barber said.

Sumner will run at 8:30 in the morning, while the Lady Devils will take to the course at 9 a.m.

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