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FEATURED PROGRAM: Hillgrove High School, Powder Springs, Georgia

Updated: Oct 9, 2022

It's time to give credit where credit it due.

Each week, Coaching Distance will shine the spotlight on an exceptional high school distance program. This week's featured team is Hillgrove High School out of Powder Springs, Georgia.


Georgia 7A


Jonathan Gambrell

Head Boys & Girls Cross Country Coach
Boys & Girls Distance- Track & Field


Jonathan has coached at Hillgrove for the past 8 seasons and has 5 years of coaching experience prior to his arrival at the school.

When asked what he enjoys most about coaching, Jonathan replied, "Seeing athletes dedicate themselves to a goal and then achieve things they did not think was possible."



Class 7A- Georgia

Hillgrove was founded in 2006 and Coach Gambrell took over the program in 2014. After not qualifying for State Cross Country Meet in 2014, both the boys and girls have qualified every year since.

Ignited by the first state title in school history in 2019, the Hillgrove girls have made the podium at the State Cross Country meet for the last 3 years in a row.

At the 2020 State Cross Country Championships, Coach Gambrell's girls posted a Runner-up finish and were 3rd this season, with three athletes making the individual podium:

  • Reese Terza- 7th

  • Gaby Osornio- 10th

  • Ava Brooks- 15th

Regionally, the boys have won 2 titles since 2014 and 1 Cobb County title. The girls have won 2 Region titles and 1 Cobb County title.

The Hillgrove girls have finished 1st or 2nd at the Region meet every year for the past 6 years.


  • Girls: 6th at County, 2nd at Region, 4th at State

  • Boys: 6th at County, 5th at Region, 31st at State

2021 State Track & Field Meet

  • Girls 4x800 3rd (9:36) *School Record

  • Ava Brooks (5:12) and Lizzy Smith (5:14) finished 8th and 11th in the 1600m

  • Lizzy Smith (10:59-school record) and Ava Brooks (11:02) finish 2nd & 3rd in the 3200m

  • Elizabeth Ellis (2:17) was 3rd in the 800m


Coach Gambrell's Favorite Workout

Regarding his favorite workout, Coach Gambrell replied, " I love a good tempo run. Not just for me, but for the kids as well. I think it teaches the kids mental toughness because they do not get a break like they would if we were doing intervals."

Cross Country Training


  • MONDAY - Long Run

  • TUESDAY - Recovery Run + Strides

  • WEDNESDAY - Threshold/CV + Hills

  • THURSDAY - Recovery + Strides

  • FRIDAY - If we race on Saturday, then recovery. If we are not racing then we will do a morning practice before school - usually a Tempo on the track followed by something fast

  • SATURDAY - If we are not racing than this is just a Recovery Day + Strides

  • SUNDAY - Most of our kids do not run on Sunday. A few will do an easy Recovery Run

Track & Field Training

"Very similar to cross country. We value aerobic fitness so we will keep a lot of it the same. Long run will be same as Cross Country, but try to increase the time they are running. On Fridays, instead of doing a tempo every week, we will alternate with one Friday being a tempo and the next Friday being something like 2x(6x200) at 800 race pace and faster."


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