University of South Florida/Jesuit Cross Country InvitationaL

Maclay and Leon traveled to the University of South Florida/ Jesuit Cross Country Invitational on September 18, 1999. Maclay head coach Gary Droze managed to win the Under the Oaks 8K Saturday morning in Tallahassee before hopping in a van and driving to the meet. The Maclay boys won the Invitational Meet on the strength of three top 15 finishes – Ryan Deak (7th – 16:01), Thure Claire (8th – 16:03) and Matthew Katz (13th – 16:24). That gave Maclay 68 points and a win over Cypress Lake (105) and Bishop Kenney (108). Michael Joanos demonstrated he was the big bend leader again, however, finishing 3rd overall in a time of 15:50. Leon boys scored 235 points to finish 10th overall. The boys race was run in a driving rain. Nicole Posey finished 10th overall for Maclay girls in a time of 19:15. The St. Pete Times reported that the race was the state’s largest prep cross country meet with 1200 boys and girls participating in 6 races. The Invitational included runners from all classifications. Thanks to Bob Deak and Lee Stephens for the following race day story.

by Lee Stephens and Bob Deak

The races featured some truly exciting, great running.

The girls field was dominated by the national class racing of Hilary White and Christa Benton. Both were out of the pack like bullets. It was clear that Benton was attempting to stretch out the race and run away from the field, which she nearly accomplished with the exception of White. Benton pushed a blistering pace throughout the race. White followed about 2 seconds behind the whole way. As they entered the stadium, the outcome of the race was still unclear, but Christa’s lead had visibly grown a few more seconds. As they entered the backstretch Benton attempted to increase the gap between her and White, however as she entered the final turn it was clear that was running out of gas. All of the spectators in the stands were on their feet and cheering as White began her drive down the final stretch of the race and nipped Benton just out of the final turn, edging her out 17:42.90 to 17:44.84. These times were run on a 3 mile course that was mildy difficult and it was hot and humid.

In the boys race a tightly bunched pack of runners consisting of Cory Presnick, Rolf Steier, Joe Harris, Michael Joanos, and Steve Zieminski set the pace throughout the race. With 800 meters to go Presnick surged to the lead. This immediately broke everyone in the pack except for Steier, who continued to bide his time a few seconds behind. As they entered the stadium onto the track Steier tossed in a surge of his own, pulling up next to Presnick –neck and neck. With 300 meters to go Presnick again surged, and again he built small lead of a few seconds. The distance between the two remained more or less the same until the final curve, when Rolf put on one final effort for the win. He quickly closed the gap between them, but it was too little too late as Presnick took the win in this outstanding rivalry, 15:39..03 to 15:40.86. Finishing third was Michael Joanos of Tallahassee Leon, who is serving notice in the young season that he is a talent to be reckoned with as the season progresses.

Team competitions featured 1999 state champions from several divisions in both the girls and boys races.

Great American bound Bishop Kenny used strong depth to capture the girls invitational team title. Lead by Mason Cathey (6th,18:56.05) and Marisa Kenyon(9th,19:05.78), Kenny scored 82 points. Notably the remaining five runners placed 21,22,25,26 and 30. Quite impressive. In second place was perennial power Plant <is this a pun?>(108pts) and third was Riverview (124pts).

Squaring off in the boys invitational team race were 5A state champs, Estero (Great American bound); 4A champs, Jesuit; 1A champs, Maclay; and a host of runners ups and 3rd place finishers. Lead by 8th grade upstart Ryan Deak (7th,16:01.91) and senior captain, Thure Caire (8th,16:03.39), Maclay of Tallahassee snared its second major invitational title of the young season. In a tight battle for second, Cypress Lake nipped Bishop Kenny 105 to 108.