Cross Country landscape changingBy David Yon
For a long time Maclay High has been the dominant power in cross country in this area. And I have no doubt the team will continue its run of excellence as the state meet competition heats up – after all they captured first (boys) and third (girls) at district with some of their key runners watching. However, after the first post season round, it is Chiles High School that is dominating the off road terrain in North Florida. The first week of competition also saw strong performances from Godby High. Chiles, Godby and Maclay will send both their boys and girls teams to the next round, while Wakulla’s, NFC’s and Leon’s boys, Aucilla Christian’s and Rickards girls will move on.
Chiles High is competing at the difficult 3A level. Coach Scott Gowan has quickly built this new school program into a nationally ranked program that is dominating at the state level. Both the boys and girls teams captured the team title in the district meets, as well as the individual titles. Alex Miletich, Chenoweth Fund Cross Country Athlete of the Year in 2002, won the boys competition with a time of 15:50.50. Chiles took five of the first eight places to score 25 points. All seven of the boys’ finishers were in the top 16. The boys team also has nine of the top ten big bend honor roll members, all of them with times faster than 17:00 minutes. Leon, led by Shawn Wolking and Evan Hubner grabbed sixth, the last spot to move on with 176 points. James Dexter finished in 17:46.60 for Lincoln. Maria Hampton led the Chiles girls team to an impressive romp of its own as she won in a time of 19:13.09. The girls took five of the top thirteen spots for 43 points compared to runner up Niceville’s total of 69.
At the 2A level Godby’s Courtney Robinson led his team to a second place finish in Marianna by winning the meet in 17:25.60. Godby scored 73 points to finish behind Pensacola Catholic’s 44 points. Former Belle Vue Middle school runners Elvin (6th) and Dustin Hern (23rd) helped the Cougers move on by running 18:09.27 and 19:42.11. Coaches Manny Joanos and Chris Sumner are bringing excitement back to Godby Cross country. Wakulla High, coached by Ron Christen, finished in the sixth spot to earn a trip to the regional. Andrew Bechtel grabbed the 13th spot to lead the team. In the girls’ competition Rickard’s, led by LaShanta Arnold, took third place with 80 points. Arnold was fifth overall in 21:03.52. Godby’s girls grabbed the sixth spot with 142 points. Another former Belle Vue runner, Christy Forsythe, led Godby’s effort. Forsythe ran 21:56.97.
At 1A, Aucilla stunned all by winning the girls race with 47 points. Second place Rocky Bayou Christian totaled 63 points. Olvia and Treston Sorenson led Aucilla to the win by finishing 2nd and 3rd in 22:02 and 22:08. Maclay ran without two of its top runners, but still finished third on the strength of Meredith Fraser’s fourth place finish of 22:21 on the very touch course. Farrah Steward of Jay won the meet hosted by North Florida Christian in 21:36. On the boys’ side, Maclay restored the normal order of things by winning with 38 points, besting South Walton’s 81. Brennan and Casey Clayton led Maclay, finishing 2nd and 3rd in 17:39 and 18:20. Devin Pate of South Walton was the winner in 17:29.