1999 State Cross Country Championship

Brevard Community College, Titusville, Fl November 20, 1999 By David Yon

Titusville is usually a pretty quiet place. But bring 1400 runners and an equal number of parents and race officials together on the Brevard Community College and that quiet gets shattered. Throw in unexpected rain showers and traffic jams and things might get a little testy. But once you find a place to park and enter the race area, things get quite well organized in a hurry. Starting with Class 3A at 8:00 a.m. a race goes off, on time, every 35 minutes. State champions, both individual and team, were crowned as the day went on, finishing with the 2A boys at 11:50. The course demanded some endurance and speed from spectators. If you wanted to maximize your viewing opportunities, you really had to sprint back and forth. The two loop course (1.5 miles for each loop) traversed over relatively flat ground. However, somewhere around the one mile and two and a half mile marks, the runners traveled through “the bog.” This piece of swamp was so bad, that runners got backed up trying to get through.

The Maclay boys did the job they were expected to do. Gary Droze has built a power house here and they won the class 1A title in dominating fashion, scoring 47 points to 106 for second place Upper Room. They were so strong in fact, that when you combined the results for ALL classes, they were fourth. Florida High also had a great year finishing fourth with 140 points. Coach Kevin Swain earned a nomination for coach of the year with his kids’ performances this year. Wewahitcka and Port St. Joe also competed.

Maclay’s win did not come in the predicted way. Coach Droze has always asked a lot of his seniors. He expects them to step up on state championship day. Thure Caire is a senior who has had a tough year. He was the top runner on the team last year. But injuries and a slow return left that lead role to Ryan Deak and others this year. Thure began to put the pieces together as the season moved toward state, but he was still just third best on the team as late as the regional. But Titusville was the state championship, the place where champions show their best stuff. After pushing to a fast early pace at districts and then setting more conservative at the regional, he chose to go out under control in this state meet. He was well back in the pack at the three-quarter mile mark as favorite Rolf Steier, Tampa Berkeley Prep, and three runners from Upper Room, took charge of the race in the early going. Ryan Deak led the Maclay contingent, probably in the second ten, with Joel Serna, Matt Katz and Thure not far behind. The red and white of Florida High was sprinkled in the mix as well, with Ted Terry and Jamaal Wilson pushing hard. Thure steadily moved up, picking off one runner after another until kicking for the clock and passing a bunch of runners, including defending champ Rod Givens, to finish third overall in 15:51.64. He was the first Maclay runner to finish, leading his team to victory. Ryan Deak (6th), Matt Katz (8th) and Joel Serna (9th) all turned in outstanding performances and secured top ten finishes. Rod Givens (4th) and Ted Terry (7th) also finished in the top ten running for Port St. Joe and Florida High, repsectively. Wewahitchka, led by Jeremy Sams, finished 12th, while Port St. Joe was 14th.

The girls 1A race was an exciting rematch of the regional battle between Maclay and Jacksonville Episcopal. Once again it would be the number four and five runners that would decide the championship. After the top three runners for each school had finished, Maclay (3,4,6) held a 13 to 15 point lead over Episcopal (2, 5, 8). The surprise was Jennifer Emo who blasted past a number of runners to be the first Maclay finisher, placing third place overall in 18:57.86. Nicole Posey, Maclay’s top runner most of the year, was fourth in19:00.95. Kara Newell hung on to sixth place with a 19:32. Episcopal’s fourth runner finished 10th overall, apparently good enough to give them the lead. Except that Anne Johansen was not ready to let that happen. She kicked past four or five runners in the last turn to grab the eleventh spot and keep Maclay in the lead by one point, 24 to 25. That left it all up to the fifth place runners. For Maclay, that put all of the pressure on Molly Drake. She delivered big time, with much pain etched on her face, by finishing 39th, five places ahead of the fifth Episcopal finisher. First year program Chiles High School finished 17th, led by Zita Magloire’s 13th place finish.

In other divisions, Marianna’s boys competed in the 2A meet. John Howell was Marianna’s top finisher in 16:57.84. There were no area 3A schools at the meet. Amy Coburn ran on behalf of Leon and finished 38th in 19:39.41. Lincoln was represented by Allie Hunter who ran 19:44.58. On the boys side, both Leon (17th) and Lincoln (19th) brought full teams. Leon was led by Big Bend Runner of the Year, Michael Joanos, who ran 16:04.51 for 25th place. Teammate Larry Rivers was not far behind in 16:14.80. Lincoln was led by Brian Hendrix, winner of a 2000 Chenoweth Award. Brian ran 16:43.49 to finish 55th.

We hopped in the car and left Titusville to watch FSU and Florida play their big game later that day. I have to tell you though the excitement, athletic effort and dedication of the state meet matched anything in Gainesville. To check out complete results, go to http://www.coachnet.net/99xc/99resultspage.htm. And then get ready for high school track and field, cause it is just around the corner.