By Randy LefkoSports EditorORANGE PARK – Orange Park High senior John Bear cruised until about mile two behind St. Augustine frontrunner Parker Woodruff before unleashing a finishing move at …
By Randy Lefko
ORANGE PARK – Orange Park High senior John Bear cruised until about mile two behind St. Augustine frontrunner Parker Woodruff before unleashing a finishing move at about 2.5 miles to win his first Bob Hans Cross Country Invitational title Saturday morning at Ridgeview High School.
For the boys race, Bear, who has been training with Keystone Heights High grad and Florida Track Club Elite coach Enoch Nadler, the strength gained over the summer left him confidence in the early miles to withstand any move off the start.
“I was just sitting on him and when I got next to him near two miles, I kind of stayed and was seeing how he might respond,” said Bear. “He looked over and I knew he was out of his zone so I surged.”
Bear cruised until about mile two before unleashing a finishing move at about 2.5 miles to win in 16:48.0 over Bartram Trail’s Ryan Musil’s 16:56.1. Oakleaf’s Dylan Nelson took fourth in 17:04.
Bear’s win, plus strong finishes from teammates Steve Aris and twin brother Stevenson Aris and newcomer Ladarius Dumas got the Raiders a strong fourth place finished behind team champion Bartram Trail, runnerup St. Augustine and third placer Mandarin, all state meet contenders. “Ladarius just moved in from Valdosta with a family move and has run about a week with us,” said Raider coach Doug Barrows. “Once he gets settled here, we will have a strong bunch near the front. We get that fifth guy closer and we are contenders.”
Dumas finished in 23rd in 18:20.2 with the Aris twins in at 27th at 18:24.8 and 29th in 18:27.4. Jared Spivey was Orange Park’s fifth finisher in a distant 66th place in 19:39.8.
Fleming Island finished eighth behind their second 10 runners as the varsity 10 was preparing for stronger races on a district timeline according to coach Karen Moritz.
“We gave the younger guys a chance to race against this field to give them some varsity experience while the varsity had a monster workout yesterday (Friday) to prep for the upcoming University of North Florida Invite this week,” said Moritz. “We had a lot of good times from the younger guys.”
Other area finishers were Dylan Nelson, for Oakleaf’s 13th place finish in 17:04.7 for fourth; Joel Nesi, for Ridgeview’s ninth palce finish, in 17:42.2 for 12th, and Matthew Stratton, for St. Johns’ 11th place finish, in 18:29.6. Fleming Island’s top finisher was Jacob Walrod at 35th in 18:36.7 with Middleburg’s John Scholz top Bronco at 19:05.0 for 47th.
Clay’s Carlton Waiguru finished 76th in 19:50.1 to lead the Blue Devils.
Teams will next head to the UNF races or the Florida Horse Ranch races in Ocala on Sat., Sept. 8.
In the girls race, Fleming Island High freshman runner Mei Chiang had a familiar backside in front of her when Gainesville High freshman Ani Veltcheva took off from the start of the Bob Hans Cross Country Invitational on Saturday at Ridgeview High School.
“I finished third behind her last year and 10th two years ago in state cross country races,” said Chiang, who ran at Orange Park Junior High School. “I knew what she was going to do from the start and she did it.”
Veltcheva, who won the girls 5K race in 19 minutes, 43.6 seconds with Chiang sevens seconds behind her, blasted from the start and kept the pace solid throughout as both girls were separated by 5-8 yards throughout the race.
Chiang made a small move near the two mile mark to close the gap, but Veltcheva never let up.
St. Augustine’s Madison Niederrieter finished third in 20:53.4 before the Fleming Island High girls team finished in a team flurry with freshman Grace Adams leading a contingency of fourth, fifth, seventh and eight place finishes; Adams, Marisa Kortright, Lauren Schaudel and Emma Millson, all under Millson’s 21:07.4 split to give the Golden Eagles an overwhelming 26 team points that outdistanced runnerup St. Augustine’s 61 points.
“We got separated a bit last week at Flagler, but stayed close today to get the team title,” said Schaudel, also a freshman and the one who improved the most from the Flagler race. “We’ve been running workouts as a group and that is going to help.” For Gainesville, Veltcheva’s next teammate to finish was 36th place as the Hurricanes finished as seventh team. Also in team points, St. Johns Country Day School finished eighth, Middleburg finished ninth and Oakleaf finished 10th. Ridgeview was 12th.
Ridgeview’s Anna Magruder finished 20th in 22:08.4 as the first area finisher behind the Fleming Island quintent with Middleburg’s Emma Mussante at 27th in 22:29.2 and Orange Park’s Emma Brown 29th in 22:31.5 as top finishers for their schools. Oakleaf had Madeline Dahlman in at 32nd in 22:34.3 with St. Johns’ getting three in at 52, 53, and 54; Kaitlyn Phillips, Sofia Conde and Evelyn Hanson, all around 24 minutes.
Clay’s top finisher was Annalee Clay at 66th in 25:10.9.
Guy, Williams tops
Bradford XC Invite
Keystone Heights High School seniors Alex Guy, a region meet cross country qualifier last year, won the rugged Bradford County Cross Country Invitational on Sat., Aug. 31, in 19:40.0 to win by two seconds and give the Indians a second place team finish.
Guy finished third in the district 5-2A cross country championships in 18:17 in 2017, but 36th in region 2-2A in 18:07.
Eastside High School won the team title with 24 teams points over Keystone Heights’ 47. Suwannee High was third with 56 points. Eight teams competed.
For the girls, Keystone Heights High sophomore Camryn Williams, also a region meet cross country qualifier, won the girls race in 25:08 by nearly 40 seconds over Interlachen High’s Kierra Chauncey. Keystone Heights had three girls compete; junior Danielle Garvey, 20th in 32:53 and seventh grader Jenna Moss in 42nd at 41:01. Williams was fourth in the district 5-2A meet in 22:13.06, but 31st in region 2-2A in 22:14.
Keystone Heights’ boys got a strong finish from freshman Tyler Shaw at seventh in 21:29 with Jerry and Jay Payne finishing at 14th and 15th in 22:51 and 22:53, respectively. Garrett Stanley, a junior, finished 17th in 22:57 with Joseph Danella 35th in 26:54 and Logan Williams 43rd in 28:21.