By Randy LefkoSports Editor
JACKSONVILLE - St. Johns Country Day School junior cross country runner Matthew Stratton only needed to tap the throttle to take the district 3-1A championship title …
By Randy Lefko
JACKSONVILLE - St. Johns Country Day School junior cross country runner Matthew Stratton only needed to tap the throttle to take the district 3-1A championship title with the Class 1A runnerup handling the field at Jacksonville’s Cecil Field New World Golf location on Thurs., Oct. 29.
Stratton, second last year in a final mile flurry in 15 minutes, 39 seconds, finished 30 seconds ahead of his closest competitor in 17:27.00 at the district race.
Runners return to the New world Golf course on Sat., Nov. 6 for the region 1-1A championship race. The first four runners not on one of the top three teams advanced to the region as individuals. St. Johns boys won their district with the girls second to all advance to the region race.
Stratton has fielded a handful of sub-17, low 16 minute splits for the season including a season opener of 15:56 in August on the same course.
Last year, Tallahassee Maclay’s Junious Brown outran Stratton for both the district title, but also the region title, but Stratton got the better of the rivalry at the state meet. Brown is currently running for Florida State University.
Stratton’s win was backed up for the Spartan team title with Richard Nichols, Jacob Kailes and Stanley Cowherd all in the top seven. Senior Cade Zehner got in at 18th to complete the top five finishers for St. Johns who edge host Bishop Snyder 32-46 at the top.
In the girls race, Rebecca Stratton put her name in the hopper for up and coming surprises for her coach, ironically, dad Greg Stratton, who had orchestrated a Spartan-like November surge in the pack running and lower times to put St. Johns in position for yet another state meet bid and, possible, top 10 team finish.
Rebecca Stratton, an eighth grader, was top finisher for the Lady Spartans in 22:16 to improve her times drastically since the season began. Stratton opened the season with a 23:31 split on the same New World Gold course in August.
Right behind Stratton, teammate Evelyn Hanson, a veteran junior for the team, was in at 22:35. Sarah Robinson, a ninth grader finished 11th in 23:29 and Sofia Conde, a freshman, finished 13th in 23:38. The final two St. Johns runners completed a team top 20 rally with Sarah Mejia, a seventh grader, in at 18th and Kaitlyn Phillips, a sophomore, at 19th.
Providence to the team title with overall winner Laci Watford of University Christian finished just ahead of Providence teammates Lindy White and Gretchen Morgan, winning in 19:26.
Providence scored 28 with St. Johns second at 46 and Bishop Snyder third at 56.
Winning boys times throughout the region 1-1A teams were 17:23.40 at 4-1A; 19:17 in 2-1A and region 1-1A at:
Region top times at districts
1-1A: Girls 19:28, Kaylin Olivarez, Baker High; Boys 17:00.30, Jonathan Tutton, Pensacola Christian Academy
2-1A: Girls 24:11.90, Madelyn Gortmeoller, Port St. Joe; Boys 19:17.90, Austin Pennington, Blountstown
4-1A: Girls 20:49.30, Gracie Koeppel, Maclay (Maclay 1-3-4-5-6 finish); Boys 17:23.50, Leo Rutledge, Maclay (Maclay 1-2-4-5-6 finish)
District 5-2A Cross County
to district title
OCALA - Keystone Heights High senior cross country runner Camryn Williams, the top area finisher at last year’s state championship meet with a 19 minute, 44 second time in the Class 2A race, put her name back into the state championship chase conversation with a district 5-2A title on Saturday in Ocala.
“I’ve always been strong enough this year to run the time I ran this Saturday had I been tapered and fresh,” said Williams. “I did a time trial about two weeks ago with just me and Enoch (coach Enoch Nadler, former Keystone Heights High running champion and coach at Florida Track Club Elite Racing in Gainesville) and ran a 19:39 on top of a 50 mile week so I’m definitely fitter then last season.”
Williams, who has raced sparingly through the season, has been training with Nadler, blasted the district field with a 20:14.20 to win by 30 seconds over four P.K. Yonge runners who strode in from second through fifth to secure the team title.
“It definitely didn’t look good at the beginning but being behind the scenes and knowing the work I was putting in, I was confident I would bounce back,” said Williams. “Before the season, I developed some perineal tendinitis in my ankle that kept me from keeping the volume I usually do in training.
As the season progressed, Williams was getting small hints that her strategy to race less and build her volume back up was paying off.
“The first few races, I was building volume during and hitting big weeks leading up to it so the legs certainly weren’t fresh and that took a toll on my times,” said Williams.
In 2019, Williams peaked at the state meet after a fourth place district and region finishes.
Region Cross Country Venue
Region 2-2A: KHHS at Wickham Park in Satellite Sat., Nov. 7
Top region times from districts
6-2A: Girls 19:08.82, Mackenzie Scordato, Citrus; Boys 17:31.29, Cody Bishir, Citrus
7-2A: Girls 19:19.10, Lily Henne, Montverde Academy; Boys 16:19.40, Nick Carpenter, Trinity Prep
8-2A: Girls 19:43.90, Julia Lavrador, Satellite; Boys 15:33.80, Gabriel Montague Satellite (Satellite 1-2-3-4-6-7-8 finish)
At the district race on Saturday, Williams’ finish fueled a third place team finish for the Lady Indians with Britney Mynster, Maria Mynster, Alexis Taylor and Ella Hutchins all competing and getting the ticket to regions.
“That makes it more special, to have the team up there,” said Williams.
For the boys, junior Tyler Shaw took ninth in 18:24.70 with teammate Tyler Griffin just 20 seconds behind in 12th place. Jayson Lauzurique finished 24th with Ayden Graff, an eighth grader, in a 35th.
District 3-3A Cross Country
Snipes just out of
district XC top 10
PONTE VEDRA BEACH - Ridgeview High junior James Snipes, a soccer to cross country convert in his first year as a harrier, notched one for himself with an 11th place finish and a region championship invite at the district 3-3A championship race Saturday morning at Ponte Vedra High School.
“It went great, I felt great most of the way,” said Snipes, who ran a best time of 17 minutes, three seconds. “The start was a little shaky, but this district and I had to push it.”
Region Cross Country Venues
Region 1-3A: MHS, RHS at Alligator Lake, Lake City, Sat., Nov. 7
Region 1-3A district top times
1-3A: Girls 18:48.60, Kambry Smith, Fort Walton Beach; Boys 16:13.10, Francisco Ramirez, Pace High
4-3A: Girls 19:36.90, Emma Jane Schlageter, New Smyrna Beach; Boys 17:20.90 Tyler Herndon Seabreeze
In the girls race, Middleburg senior Emma Mussante issued another rewrite of the school record book with her fourth best time of the season; a 19:25 split for third place behind top finisher Reilly Barber of St. Augustine in 18:32 and Ponte Vedra’s Lauren Bing in 19:21.
Snipes, who with teammate Dominik Frietze, have led a Panther 1-2 punch lately with both feeding off the others energy for the past two races and exchanging places.
“He (Dom) has had some issues with his asthma, but he keeps running hard to give us team points,” said Snipes, who hit the first mile at 5:15. “This is my first year and I want to get up that junior status.”
Frietze finished 18th at 17:52 just ahead of Middleburg High’s Robert Nogales and Dylan Anderson with the foursome all moving to regions next week.
Ponte Vedra dominated the front of the race with winner Lucas Bouquot winning in 16:14.00 with four teammates behind him to 16:44.
St. Augustine finished second with Stanton third as Ridgeview coach Paul Grybb and Middleburg coach Kyle Brown started counting finishers for the final four spots to go to regions.
According to the FHSAA, the top three teams automatically advance with the next four finishers not on one of the to three teams also advancing.
Snipes, Frietze, Nogales and Anderson got the final four spots with Middleburg’s Noal Carlson and Juan Flores outside the bubble despite strong finishes.
Orange Park’s top finisher was Noe Benitez in 31st in 18:56.
Mussante trekked Ponte Vedra’s Bing for most of the race with Barber pulling away from the field early and finishing with a minute gap.
“I knew she (Barber) was going to do her thing and get away fast,” said Mussante. “I knew Ponte Vedra’s Bing had a really strong third mile so I knew if I was with her, I would have a good finish.”
Mussante, who wanted to set a fast time for herself in anticipation of a fast region finish and get the elusive state meet invite that she barely missed last year. Mussante finished 17th at the region 1-3A race last year just behind Bing, but did not advance to the state meet. Barber was second at last year’s region meet and 11th in Class 3A. Bing was 35th in the state championship race.
“Regions last year, I was running 20:50,” said Mussante. “Hopefully, I get to state for my senior year. That’s the goal.”
Mussante will be joined in Tallahassee by teammate Whitney Mathis who finished 16th in 21:31 to get the Lady Broncos a third place finish and a team invite to regions.
Ridgeview, fourth in team points, will send junior Blythe Duchene to regions with her 19th place finish in 21:54 getting her one of the four individual tickets.
Orange Park had one runner, junior Sofia Menendez, who finished 44th.
Clay girls fourth in Bolles-tough 4-2A; Waiguru, girls send three
JACKSONVILLE - Led by a strong finished just under 22 minutes by junior Ulyana Damme, the Clay High Lady Blue Devils cross country team finished fourth in a district line that featured a top 7 finish by the entire Bolles High School squad in district 4-2A’s championship race held Thurs., Oct. 28 at Bishop Kenny High School.
Damme finished highlighted a strong four finish for the Lady Blue Devils who had Savannah Hill at 21st, Madisyn Blackburn at 22nd and Kaygen Williamson at 24th for a strong team effort.
Region top times at districts
2-2A: Girls 22:26.90, Niya Coleman, Florida High; Boys 18:30.40, Matthew Ortiz, Santa Fe
1-2A: Girls 21:33.90, Ava Flaherty, South Walton; Boys 17:19.30, James Simkins, Pensacola
3-2A: Girls 21:40, Amelia Wondracek, Paxon; Boys 16:29, Caden Kwiatkowski, Fernandina Beach
With the top four runners not on one of the top three teams advancing to regions, Clay’s strong pack running earned Damme and teammates Savannah Hill and Madisyn Blackburn region invites.
Area runners will be at the New World Golf Center at Cecil Field for the Region 1-2A championship race on Sat., Nov. 6.
Bolles won with the 15 point shutout effort with Clay in at 108 points in fourth behind Bishop Kenny and Episcopal.
For the boys, Bolles, with three runners under 17 minutes, doubled up with another top-seven finishers to win the team title with 15 points. Clay’s Carlton Waiguru, attempting to get to his second region race, grabbed his spot at 24th in 18:48.
The first four runners not on one of the top three teams advanced to the region as individual; Bolles, Bishop Kenny and Menendez finished 1-2-3 in team points with Episcopal just ahead of Clay. Episcopal had three runners ahead of Waiguru, but Waiguru grabbed the final individual spot to the region race.
Clay had Noah Looney, a freshman, at 35th; William Etheridge, a junior, in 46th, and Evan Jaeger, a freshman, at 53rd. Sophomore Noah Manning was 56th.