On to State - District 1 Region Meets

November 13, 1999 By David Yon

This weekend was region competition. The top six teams and 15 runners in each competition go on to the state meet in Titusville, Florida on November 20. There were some outstanding performances by local runners. The Big Bend area will be represented at the state meet by the Lincoln and Leon boys at the 4A competition; by Marianna’s boys in 2A; by Maclay’s girls and boys, Florida High’s boys and Chiles’ girls in 2A. Congratulations to coaches Marilyn Wills (Leon), Perry Shaw (Lincoln), Alan Gibson (Marianna), Kevin Swain (Florida High), and Scott Gowen (Chiles). Gary Droze gets two congratulations for getting both teams to the state meet.

The 1A meet was contested at Port St. Joe High School and after driving around in circles I found the start of the race. The course was flat, but rough with a number of turns. It was not an easy course on which to find a sense of rhythm. While the weather was nearly perfect, the rough course meant most times were a tad slow. The race of the day was the battle between the girls of Maclay and Jacksonville Episcopal. Ranked number one and two in the state before the region meet, they made the rankers look pretty smart. They will go at it one more time for the state title next Saturday in Titusville, but this Saturday belonged to Maclay. It was Maclay’s depth that won out as the girls placed 2, 4, 6, 13 and 15 for 40 total points to win by 10 points. Episcopal’s girls finished 1, 3 and 7, but then failed to place anyone else in the top 15, scoring a total of 50 points.

The individual battle was between Nicole Posey and Kara Scanlin. Kara was ranked number two in the state, while Nicole was number four. They were one and two in the region. Kara set a strong early pace, passing the mile mark in just under 6:00 minutes. Nicole and Kara’s Episcopal teammate Stephanie Paulk followed five to eight seconds behind. The next group was made up of Kara Newell (Maclay), Jennifer Emo (Maclay) and Haley Hoffman (Pensacola Catholic). Five of the top six runners belong to the two teams battling it out for first place. Every place earned or lost by the top five runners for each team would be critical. By the two-mile mark, Kara Scanlin had taken charge of the race by building a lead of more than 30 seconds. Despite being unpressed in the final mile, she broke the tape in 18:11, barely slowing at all from the strong early pace. Nicole and Stephanie battle for second, matching strides as they approached the stadium finish. Just when it seemed Paulk might give Episcopal the top two spots, Posey found the extra engine she needed to power to the finish and claim the number two spot. Her time of 19:03 gave her a one second advantage over Stephanie. Jennifer Emo continued her outstanding year and became a critical part of Maclay’s win by crossing the line next in 19:08, just off her season best despite the slow course. Kara Newell gave Maclay its third finisher in the top 10, finishing in sixth at 19:38 – well ahead of Episcopal’s third finisher Sara Loveless. But with both teams’ top three runners in, Maclay was down one point. Molly Drake (13) and Anne Johansen (15) took care of that deficit, however, beating the last two Episcopal finishers by a total of 11 places to win the meet championship.

A big story of the day was the reaction of the Chiles girls team as the runners heard the announcement that they had indeed qualified for the state meet by capturing the last spot for state. Zita Magloire led the team with an eighth place finish in 20:08, a personal best. Chiles, in its first year of existence, competed with only ninth and tenth graders.

The boys team competition was never in doubt, as Maclay took six of the top ten spots to dominate the competition. Maclay’s 25 points were far ahead of Pensacola Catholic’s 94. Florida High earned its way to state with a third place finish and 108 points. Port St. Joe (forth) and Wewahitchka (sixth) will make the trip to Titusville, as well. The excitement in this race was the individual competition. A nice pack went out together early. Soon, however, Jacksonville Trinity’s Nick Wilson began to push the pace cruising through the mile split in just over 5:00 to take the lead. Trailing behind him were Ryan Deak, Thure Caire, Matt Katz and defending state champ Rod Givens. By the two-mile mark, Deak and Wilson were together at around 10:20, separating themselves from the rest of the pack. Rod Givens, running on his home course, followed not far behind, while Matt Katz seemed to be struggling at 10:38. Wilson’s name did not show up in the last 1A statewide rankings and he was only listed at seventh in the region. Apparently, he did not bother to read those polls as he and Ryan matched each other stride for stride. As they approached the stadium, Nick seemed to have the smoother gate and perhaps the advantage. As they moved behind the stadium and onto the final straightaway though, Ryan shifted gears. The district one champion unleashed a devastating kick that left Wilson three seconds back and gave him the title of region champ. Ryan’s winning time was 15:36, just three seconds off his season best. Nick Wilson’s gutsy performance gave him a second place finish in 15:39. Rod Givens was Port St. Joe’s first finisher with a third place 15:45. Matt Katz overcame whatever struggle he had at the two mile mark to set yet another personal best with his fourth place time of 15:58. Ted Terry led Florida High, placing seventh in a time of 16:11.

The 4A meet was held at Jake Gaither Golf Course on a very tough, two loop, course. The loop climbs two gradual hills and one real steep one. Niceville took five of the top thirteen spots in the boys race, despite the absence of its top runner, to beat a determined Neese team 34 to 48. Lincoln found the way to the state meet by finishing fourth with 133 points, while Leon captured the last spot on the train to state with 161 points. Phillip Laird, Niceville’s number one runner sat out the meet with an injury. None of the local 4A girls teams moved onto the state meet.

This is Leon’s Michael Joanos’ hometown and he knew how to take advantage of that fact. Niceville’s Ben Contratto and Shawn Patterson took off on the downhill start, while Michael laid back. He waited for the first loop, letting the hills do their work on the runners. Around one and three quarters mile, he began to take charge though, moving to the lead. Tommy Browne of Nease went with him, but could not hang on as Michael went on to victory running a time of 15:39. Browne finished second in 15:50. Lincoln was led by Brian Hendricks and Phillip Perry who finished tenth and fifteenth, respectively. Larry Rivers was Leon’s second finisher and the only other top fifteen finisher. Leon’s Amy Coburn has been suffering from flu and cold problems, but she found the strength to finish seventh and earn a trip to Titusville with a 20:06. Allie Hunter, from Lincoln, was right behind her in eighth place with a 20:12 to secure her trip to the state finals.

Marianna traveled to Gainesville to claim second place in the boys 2A region competition. John Howell led the team with a 16:49 for fourth place and a one second PR. Teammate Sam Andreu ran 17:10 for ninth place, almost 50 seconds better than his previous PR. The Marianna boys team had 6 of 7 season best times. In addition to John and Sam, Keith Harvey improved from 17:49 to 17:32, Steven Specht went from 18:07 to 17:45, Leo

Tordjman dropped from 18:52 to 18:26, and Angel Medina lowered his best 18:51 to 18:28. Although they didn’t achieve their goal of defeating Bolles for the Regional title the team was happy with their performance and still has one more shot at Bolles in the state meet.