DHS Cross Country team secures 1st place at State Championships

Gabi Gould

On Saturday Nov. 5, the Decatur High School (DHS) boys and girls varsity cross country teams won first place at the 5AAAAA cross country State Championships in Carrollton, Georgia.

Senior Gabriella Malerba ran a 5K -a five kilometer race- with a 20:29 time, securing first place in girls varsity. This was the first time in DHS history that the girls cross country team won a state championship. 

Malerba admitted that she ran this race with the goal of securing the team a high placement; she was not focused on getting first place in the girls race for her own personal success.

“First place wasn’t necessarily on my mind, but I knew it was possible if I gave it my all,” Malerba said. 

This type of thinking has remained with Malerba throughout the season, as she is a senior and was hoping to make history for the school. Unlike previous years, Malerba took on the captain position and helped to build good chemistry with the team. 

 “This year I really stepped up and took a leadership position and led my girls team to be a very successful group,” Malerba said. 

Senior Jake Westing also ran a 17:02, earning the runner-up spot for the boys event, which played a large role in the team getting first place. Westing has been working hard throughout the season, as placing high at state was a big goal for him. Westing runs seven days a week along with strength workouts and regular maintenance runs with his team. 

However, the team has faced a number of obstacles throughout the season. Due to a sizable amount of injuries throughout the season, the team was only able to run with a full and healthy varsity team recently. 

With that being said, the chemistry built through spending substantial amounts of time together helped lead the team to win the state championship with the full and healthy varsity team, even if they had not all run together until recently. 

“We have such a strong bond which motivates each person to do their best,” Malerba said. 

Looking forward, Malerba sees this win as motivation for the team to continue to improve. She has much confidence that her younger teammates will continue on the legacy that has been set after winning the 5AAAAA cross country State Championships this year. 

“The girls team has a lot of young runners with a lot of talent and I am so excited to come back and watch them race and dominate,” Malerba said.