Eagle pack-running gets second at Bobcat XC

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 9/14/22

ORANGE PARK - With two of the biggest cross country meets going on simultaneously; one in Gainesville and one at Ridgeview High School, area running fans had a good opportunity to see some of the …

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Eagle pack-running gets second at Bobcat XC


ORANGE PARK - With two of the biggest cross country meets going on simultaneously; one in Gainesville and one at Ridgeview High School, area running fans had a good opportunity to see some of the talent pushing the pace in area high schools.

Fleming Island’s girls team, led by senior Katelyn Thompson, traveled to the Santa Fe Community College cross country cross to test out their former district and region grounds against some of the area powerhouses of cross country; Oak Hall (third in 1A), Mandarin (11th in 4A), Buchholz (4A champions), Spruce Creek and PK Yonge at the Bobcat Classic. Fleming Island was 12th in 3A last year.

With Thompson leading the Fleming Island front trio of herself, Allie Knotts and Reese Scott, Fleming Island place three runners in the top 10 to capture a second place team finish behind Oak Hall, 65-80, with Mandarin third at 99 points and Buchholz at 103 in the very tightly run event.

With winner Olivia Niewald of Spruce Creek, a senior, escorting senior teammate Delaney Stephens, 10th in 4A last year, to a 1-2 finished just under 20 minutes on the hilly course, Thompson, 63rd in 3A last year in 20:31.4, finished sixth at 20:35.20 with Knotts, a junior, eighth at 20:55.50 and Scott, a junior, ninth at 21:03.40. Knotts was 49th at the 3A state meet in 20:13.7.

At Ridgeview High, in one of the largest fields in recent history according to Panther coach Paul Grybb, area harrier fans got to see a possible state meet preview with the likes of Ponte Vedra (3A girls champions, boys 7th), Creekside (4A girls 12th, boys 2nd), Bartram Trail (4A girls 14th, boys 3rd) taking on challengers.

For the girls, Creekside’s latest potential state medalist, freshman Alyson Johnson powered away early and decisively to win in 20:13.9 over Ponte Vedra’s sophomore duo of Daisy Ross and Sofia Bushkell (5th in 3A) in 20:18.9 and 20:31.70, respectively. Ponte Vedra dominated the top 10 finishers with six finishers with Creekside getting three in the top 11 with Ponte Vedra scoring just 26 points to win over Creekside’s 44. Tocoi Creek was third at 116.

Middleburg High senior Molly “The Hurt” Burt was top area finisher with a 38th place finish in 23:40.4.

Clay High’s top finisher was freshman Bailey Albritton in 24:39.50 for 54th place.

Orange Park’s Charlotte Wilson was 59th in 24:47.90 to lead the Lady Raiders.

Ridgeview freshman Emily Turner was top Panthers at 63rd in 24:54.80.

St. Johns Country Day School’s duo of Rebecca Stratton and Sofia Conde finished 90th and 91st to pace the Spartans.

In the boys race, Creekside had a 1-2 finish after chasing down early leader Braden Motycka of Bartram Trail to lead the Knights to a 27 point win with Ponte Vedra second at 73 and Bartram Trail third at 75 in a tight score for those places.

Creekside’s Jacob Harvey won at 17:01.50 over teammate Tanner Simonds’ 17:02.50 in a sprint finish wiht Motycka holding third at 17:06.80.

Locally, Ridgeview’s Julio Rodriguez battled elbow to elbow with Middleburg’s Logan Moore and Keystone Heights’ Tyler Griffin in the final 80 meters to get the trio in at ninth, 10th and 11th, respectively in neaer 17:45.

Ridgeview finished fifth, Middleburg eighth, Orange Park 17th and Keystone Heights 18th in the 25 team field. Clay was 22nd with St. Johns Country Day School 23rd.

Upcoming are two big events in north Jacksonville; the Bale n Trail at Bartram Trail on Sat., Sept. 17 and the Katie Caples invite at Bishop Kenny on Sat., Sept. 24.

College XC

At Flagler College, former Ridgeview High standout Joel Nesi has become top runner for the Saints with a fifth place overall finish in 26:00.5 for 8K (4.97 miles) to lead Flagler to a third place team finish at the Eastern Florida State College Fall Classic in Melbourne on Sat., Sept. 10.

Embry Riddle won the event with Florida Southern second.

For the Florida Southern womens team, former Middleburg High standout Emma Mussante, now a sophomore, was top finisher for the Moccasins with a fourth place finish in 19:18.8 for the 5K course.

Also at Florida Southern, former Fleming Island High runner Marisa Kortright, also a sophomore, finished 10th in 19:46.0.

For the Florida Southern mens team, former Keystone Heights High standout Alex Guy, now a senior, finished 12th overall in 26:36.7 for the second place Mocassins.

At Florida State College in Jacksonville, the cross country team has Middleburg standouts Meghan Bonser, Whitney Mathihs and Kayleigh McWatters while the boys have Orange Park’s Noe Benitez. Bonser finished 75th at the Border Wars XC Invite at Valdosta State University on September 2 with a 23:08.5 effort. McWatters was 79th in 23:38.3.

Former Fleming Island High runner Lauren Schaudel is at Daytona State College and finished 59th at the Valdosta State Border Clash on September 2 in 21:58.5.

At Lagrange College, Middleburg High grad Kennedy Young was top finisher for the Lagrange womens team with a 20:53 for the 4K course at the Foothills Invitational in Oxford, Alabama.

On the 5K course at the Huntingdon Hawks Invitational in Grady, AL, Young finished in 25:18.9 to pace the womens team a second time.


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