MIDDLEBURG – Led by a second overall finish from freshman Mei Chiang, the Fleming Island High girls cross country team continued their targeted run at an upcoming district and region title with …
MIDDLEBURG – Led by a second overall finish from freshman Mei Chiang, the Fleming Island High girls cross country team continued their targeted run at an upcoming district and region title with a four point win over Creekside High at the St. Johns River Athletic Conference cross country championships held Saturday at Middleburg High School.
Creekside, second in Class 3A last year behind frontrunning Clair Openshaw, a junior with a third place finish at the Class 3A championship race last year, did not suit up with Openshaw at Middleburg, but, nonetheless, got a sterling overall win from sophomore Elizabeth Iliff. Iliff overtook Chiang, who streaked out to a 20 yard lead up to the mile marker, and wound up on the Middleburg High track first with Chiang chasing about 20 yards off the pace.
Iliff won in 19 minutes, 14 seconds with Chiang in at 19:32 and a second Creekside sophomore, Blake Petrick, third in 19:46.
For the Golden Eagles, who have developed a three or four finishing pack of runners, were led in the second wave of finishes by freshman Grace Adams who took fifth at 20:05 in front of sophomore teammate Emma Millson, seventh at 20:28, freshman Lauren Schaudel, eighth at 20:34, and junior Jennifer Fliess, 14th at 21:06 to push Fleming Island to a strong 36 point team finish with Creekside at 40 and St. Augustine third at a distant 103.
Other area runners with top finishes were Ridgeview junior Anna Magruder in 18th at 21:31 and Middleburg sophomore Emma Mussante in 26th at 21:48. Orange Park junior Emma Brown finished 45th in 22:48 to lead the Lady Raiders.
For the boys, Fleming Island finished fourth behind St. Augustine, Creekside and Bartram Trail with Orange Park senior John Bear chasing down Nease freshman Rheinhardt Harrison after his burst at the start, but missing the mark by just four seconds as Harrison held on to win in 16:25.
Fleming Island, with frontrunner Kameron Wallizada finishing a surprising 19th place in 17:29, got a sterling performance from junior Will Livesay who has been chasing his first sub-17 minute race all season though finishing 11th in 17:13 on Saturday.
Livesay finished just behind Ridgeview senior Joel Nesi who has steadily remained a low 17 minute finisher after figuring out medical issues early in the season. Nesi clocked in at 17:11 for 10th.
With Nease and Creekside dominating the top 10 beside Bear, it was St. Augustine stealing the team title with 53 points to beat out Creekside’s 72 for second and BartramTrail’s 80 for third. Fleming Island’s fourth came with 89 points.
“Kameron deserved a race like this with how hard he has been running to this point,”said Fleming Island coach Karen Moritz. “We’ll rest him up and let him recharge for districts and regions. The other boys all ran their best races to get us in the mix of a top four finish separated by just 17 points.”
For the Golden Eagles, running tough races were senior Gage West in 13th at 17:18, junior Landon Opp 17th at 17:27, and sophomore Jayden Scherer 29th at 17:43. Junior John Brinkman was a sixth runner under 18 minutes for Fleming Island at 17:53.