ORANGE PARK – Clay County schools plus St. Johns Country Day School had a banner year in cross country with four teams; Fleming Island High boys and girls, St. Johns boys and girls, both …
ORANGE PARK – Clay County schools plus St. Johns Country Day School had a banner year in cross country with four teams; Fleming Island High boys and girls, St. Johns boys and girls, both advancing to the state meet plus four individual runners from select high schools making 2018 a revitalized running season.
The Clay Today SUPER 11 cross country team, picked with discussion from the Clay Today sports department, coaches perspectives and performances, highlights the best runners of the season.
Stratton emerged as the top finisher at the Class 1A championship race, as well as the first-ever medalist for the Spartans, with an eighth place finish after finishing in the top five at his district and region races despite an injured foot. Stratton ran behind senior teammate Benjamin Kailes for most of the season, but seemed most comfortable on the formidable Tallahassee state meet course. District 4-1A: Third, 16:42. Region 1-1A: Fifth 16:32.52. State meet: Eighth 16:19.95
Will Livesay, Junior, FIHS
Livesay came alive in the district to state run to try and not lessen the damage from injured Fleming Island number one Kameron Wallizada and pulled a handful of his younger teammates to great post season finishes with his fourth at districts fueling a Golden Eagle surge to the state meet. District 1-4A: Fourth 16:45.00. Region 1-4A: 18th 17:07.80. State 4A: 63rd 17:03.43
Mei Chiang, Freshman, FIHS
As a freshman, Chiang entered the high school season with plenty of credential with top finishes at the middle school level and an early season 19:22 at the Katie Caples elite race in September. For Fleming Island, Chiang, who broke her own school record through the post season, was consistently in the mix up front with some of the best runners in the state with a district title, a region eighth place finish and a state 14th place finish. District 1-4A: First 19:07.00. Region 1-4A: Eighth 19:04.78. State meet: 14th 18:52.88.
John Bear, Senior, OPHS
Bear used a strong spring track season to propel his stock into the fall cross country season and lived up to his incoming reputation as a tough finishing runner. District 4-3A: Seventh 16:34.36. Region 1-3A: 10th 16:03.47. State 3A: 26th 16:37.72.
Kameron Wallizada, Sophomore, FIHS
Wallizada returned from a fantastic freshman year to splinter area races with best times and top finishes including a season opening 16:39 in Flagler and a fourth place finish at Bartram Trail.
District 1-4A: Sixth 16:55.00. Region 1-4A: 41st 17:31.28. State 4A: 74th 17:14.03.
Alex Guy, Senior, KHHS
Guy, who opened the season with an 18:08 in September, peaked almost perfectly at the end of the season with three championship race finishes at nearly the exact same times.
District 5-2A: First 16:54.33. Region 2-2A: Sixth 16:54.91. State 2A: 31st 16:56.72.
Emma Mussante, Sophomore, MHS
Mussante improved to her fastest time at the super tough region 1-3A race that featured 11 of the top finishers at the state 3A race in the top 15. District 4-3A: 14th 20:40.07. Region 1-3A: 36th 20:12.00
Dylan Nelson, Junior, OHS
Nelson became one of the more consistent sub-17 minute runners on all terrains and against all competition. District 1-4A: Second 16:09.00. Region 1-4A: Sixth 16:33.18. State 4A: 20th 16:33.64
Benjamin Kailes, Senior, SJCDS
Kailes, who throughout the season, challenged the frontrunners in most race and had one of the fastest region times in Florida with his second place in region 1-1A; his first sub-16 minute finish. At the state meet, Kailes fell off the pace to take 12th. District 4-1A: First 16:27. Region 1-1A: Second 15:57.89. State meet: 12th 16:38.69.
Lauren Schaudel, Freshman, FIHS
Schaudel came into her freshman season as the least seasoned at the middle school level then her freshman teammates Mei Chiang and Grace Adams, but finished with a flurry as the second on the Fleming Island team at the state meet. Adams, for most of the season, was Fleming Island’s second finisher, but fell ill prior to districts with Schaudel stepping up big to make up the deficit. District 1-4A: Fifth 19:45.00. Region 1-4A: 22nd 20:12.51. State 4A: 44th 19:54.70.
Joel Nesi, Senior, RHS
Nesi overcame some medical issues that have plagued him throughout his first three years and finally found the magic in his senior year to achieve his state meet goal despite running in the very tough Bolles-strong district 4-2A and even tougher region 1-2A. Districts: Ninth 17:18.61. Region 1-2A: 12th 16:29.15. State 2A: 29th 16:52.29.