FACA All-Star Cross Country Championship Tallahassee - Miccosukee Greenway

Four area prep runners do well Monday 12/03/01 By Andrew O'Donnell

Local area high school cross country runners capped off a successful season by running the final prep race of the 2001 calendar year. The FACA All-Star Cross Country Championship, which was hosted by FSU and Maclay School, was designed to give high school seniors one last chance to compete against the top-ranked graduating cross country athletes in all of Florida.

The girls race went off first. The winner of the race, representing the South Region, was Cathleen Willy in a time of 17:54 (3 Miles). Willy’s only close competitor was our first area harrier to finish Kara Newell of Maclay High School (North Region). Kara capped off a stellar prep career by finishing second out of the strong field of 25 all-star seniors. Kara’s time was 18:18. Zita Magloire, Chiles High School (North), was the next Tallahassee runner to finish. Zita finished in fifth place with a time of 18:51. Even more impressive than her time or place was the courage Zita showed by coming back from an injury that sidelined her earlier in the season. Despite the lack of training time due to the injury, Zita impressed this GWTC member by unleashing her signature kick. Zita used every ounce of her energy to out-lean Angela Pichardo from the South region. In fact, later on we learned that her efforts decided the championship as our North team beat the South team by one point. Had Zita been out kicked by Pichardo, the North and South Team would have tied, therefore making it necessary to go to the tie breaking 6th runner.

Since the South Region’s 6th runner placed higher, the South would have won instead. Rounding off our impressive young ladies was Kara’s Maclay teammate, Molly Drake (North). Molly another tough member of Coach Droze’s powerhouse team, finished hard in 21st place and a time of 20:59. Way to go area all-stars!

The boys race was very exciting and fast at the first mile. Two guys, eventual winner Nick Wilson of Paxon HS (North) and Kevin Cook (East) hit the mile in around 4:45! Despite that blazing speed the pack wasn’t far behind. At least ten guys were under five minutes for the first mile. The lone local boys runner, Gallagher Dempsey of Leon High School (North), was smart and went out at a more reasonable pace. The conditions were sunny and a bit warmish – so we expected most of the leaders to fade later on in the race. Nick Wilson ran away with the race in a fast time of 15:01 (3 Miles). As predicted, many of the runners slowed from the heat and the early fast pace. Gallagher Dempsey ran a smart race and place 16th with a time of 16:16. It seems as if his tactic to stay back really helped him at the end. He finished strong.

There were two notable Florida seniors missing from the girls race. Kara Scanlin of South Episcopal HS and Jessica Hellender from South Cooper City High School missed this meet. Both athletes qualified to run in Footlocker’s HS Cross Country National Championship in Orlando, FL. The race was held on December 8. Both runners qualified by coming in one of the top eight places at their regional championship. Scanlin led the way at Nationals by placing 15th out of 32 of the best girls in the entire country. By doing so Scanlin took the last All-American spot. Hellender missed making the top 15 but finished 31st. These girls were the only representative from the fine state of Florida. Congratulations to both girls, their coaches and their schools.

One neat thing about the Florida Senior All-Star race was that the runners wore one of four jerseys representing different geographical regions of Florida (just like they do at Nationals). Each jersey had either NORTH – SOUTH – EAST or WEST (Florida region) printed on it (as Nationals has Northeast, Midwest, West and South regions of the country.) Tallahassee runners were of course on the NORTH team. They scored the races between the four area teams. The North team (stacked with 3 local runners of the 5 that scored – Newell, Magloire and Drake.) won by one point 42 to 43 over the South region team! Kara’s leadership, Zita’s kick and Molly’s strong team finish helped decide the win for the North Region.

It wasn’t as close in the boys team division. Led by a 2, 3, 4, 6, 9 close pack finish, the East team literally ran away with the FACA title with just 24 points. Our North boys team was edged out for second by the South region 63 to 67.

The FSU cross country program, GWTC and Maclay High School made wonderful meet organizing partners. Their partnership showed all of Florida that Tallahassee can not be ignored as an ideal place to host top-notch quality cross country meets. GWTC provided the uniforms through a contribution from the Chenoweth fund. We are also honored to have such great athletes, coaches and volunteers in our area (including our GWTC volunteers – Droze, Kalin, Lott and probably others that I missed at the meet.) This type of occasion reminds me of why I recently relocated to this beautiful and thoughtful area. A good time was had by all.

Great Job athlete all-stars!

For our enjoyment, John Kalin (as usual) has put together a wonderful spread of photo of the FACA XC Challenge. FSU also has a link on their homepage which has results and photos of the meet. (I have a feeling John took those photos as well – Thanks John.) Attached below are those two links.