Breakthroughs and heartbreaks at state finalsTampa, Saturday, Nov 18
By Gary Droze
For area athletes, Saturday’s FHSAA State Cross Country Finals played out as a mixture of breakthroughs and heartbreaks. The Maclay girls and boys pulled off a sweep of the Class 1A titles, due largely to big contributions from supporting runners. The Chiles girls, hampered by a heel injury to Big Bend cross country honor roll leader Zita Magloire, managed 11th place in the 2A division, while their boys placed 3rd in the extremely competitive 2A classification.
The Maclay girls outdueled defending State Champions Jacksonville Episcopal, 105 to 120. Led by race runnerup Kara Newell (18:44), the Marauders relied on 7th grader Adriana Piekarewicz (20:02), recovering (stress fracture) runner Jennifer Emo (20:11), and senior Molly Drake (20:44) for their next three spots. Part-time Maclay swimmer Betsy McQueen secured the win by holding off two Episcopal runners late in the race with a personal best 20:55. Laura Ostrov (21:07) and Lara Hawkes (23:20) also competed for Maclay. This was the Maclay girls’ 4th state title in 5 years.
The Maclay boys, led by race runnerup Ryan Deak (15:35), extended their consecutive state title streak to four years, which ties the state record for consecutive wins (now held with Clearwater Central Catholic). After a scare in which Maclay number two runner Ross McMillan dropped out near two miles with a knee injury, Maclay’s backup runners surged to reclaim position. Josh Hollingsworth (16:39), Colby Clayton (16:50), Brandon Harris (16:59), and Alex Brickler (17:03) ensured the win, with Brennon Clayton (17:18) also competing for the Marauders, who scored 66 points to win by 38 over St Pete Catholic.
Florida High’s Caleb Carmichael (7th, 16:23) and Wewahitchka’s Fritz Stoppelbein (55th, 17:39) competed as individuals in the 1A race.In 2A competition, area star Zita Magloire led the Chiles girls to 11th team spot with her 30th place finish (20:21), despite literally having to crawl across the finish line due to an Achilles tendon injury that hobbled her near the end of the race. Also running for Chiles were Karla Savery (20:28), Kristine Isom (21:11), Layne Maifarth (21:44), Meredith Pederson (23:18), Cayln Allen (24:35), and Whitney Weimer (24:59). Marianna’s Sheryl Rosen placed 13th in the 2A race with a personal best 19:31.
Chiles’ boys fought to a 2A third place finish (149 points) behind Gulliver Prep (71) and Tampa Jesuit (96). The Timberwolves were led by 3rd place finisher Herbie Thiele (15:37). Other Chiles runners included Alex Miletich (16:14), Stephan Smith (16:48), Joel Williams (17:10), Stephen Andrews (17:24), James Benedict (17:25), and Hunter Cook (17:36). This is the strongest team finish for Chiles’ boys at State in the school’s short history.
In the 3A race, Lincoln’s individual entry Allie Hunter was far off her 18:25 personal best, running 22:39 for 131st as she competed while battling a severe cold. Leon’s Gallagher Dempsey fared better in the boys’ 3A competition, finishing 26th in 16:37.
An overlooked performance in the 3A regional was the effort of freshman Christy Forsyth who finished sixth in the regionals with a Godby school record of 19:32.
Submitted by Big Bend Cross Country Honor Roll archivist Gary Droze (942-7333)