TALLAHASSEE - Fleming Island High senior cross country runner Graham Myers had a bit of a lull in his season near the end of his illustrious career of top-five finishes in cross country and track, …
TALLAHASSEE - Fleming Island High senior cross country runner Graham Myers had a bit of a lull in his season near the end of his illustrious career of top-five finishes in cross country and track, but the wispy fleet-footed flyer had one of his strongest races in the Class 3A championship race on Friday in Tallahassee to finish third against a two-time champion that has been his Moby Dick since last year.
"Graham came back today and ran a strong race against a strong field," said Fleming Island cross country coach Dave Allen, who watched his team clinging to a second-place mid-race position before finally settling in at fourth place behind defending team champion Belen Jesuit, Naples, and Leon. "We beat Leon in the region race, but they edged ahead of us in the end with Naples squeezing in there."
For the team scores, where Fleming Island was third last year with Myers third then, the dominant Belen Jesuit team scored just 33 points to take the team title with little challenge while the next three scored 146, 150 and 159 in one of the tensest final moments of the 2023 season."
"Think about the talent in the field to have that many teams that close in the top five," said Allen. "We got a great race again from Jacob Campbell who came in just ahead of John Keester IV to get us in that second place spot, but the fours and fives of all three teams made it very close."
With two-time defending champion Patrick Koon, a recent Stanford University commit, testing the field with a 4:44 first mile then edging away from Belen Jesuit freshman Marcelo Mantecon in the final 800 meters to win in 15 minutes. 2.1 seconds to Mantecon's 15:09.9, Myers finished third in 15:23.2 with Campbell in at 22nd in 16:22.6 and Keester in at 28th in 16:31.3 giving Fleming Island and early race boost. Belen's 33 points came by way of Mantecon at second and finishers at fifth, sixth and eighth.
Fleming Island's fourth finisher was Roman Mollicone at 48th in 16:55.1 with Andrew Boyer 74th in 17:12.5.
For the Fleming Island girls, where an injury to Allie Knotts in mid-race had her on the ground for nearly two minutes, sophomore Brooke Reynolds commanded the top finish for the team with a 21st place finish in 19:30.8, one of her best races on the very hill trek in Tallahassee. With Knotts out of the mix and a top 10 finish seemingly out of reach, it was senior Reese Scott in 67th place in 20:43.1 that made a top 10 finish objective a final 13th place finish. Knotts gallantly finished in 172nd in 23:02.8.
"We were shooting for seventh place on paper and had a good shot at it, but Allie had problems in the race and it was serious and girls were going by her while she was on the ground," said Allen. "Brooke had no idea and just kept running strong."
Miami Dillard, with 3A champion Christiana Coleman, sixth last year, winning in 17:53.4, duked it out with Ponte Vedra, the 2021 3A champion, in the team finishes with a 46-66 edge with Lourdes High a distant third at 142. Dillard placed three runners in the top five with Ponte Vedra's Lindy White fourth to put the Sharks in position to run for the top spot. Dillard, second in 3A last year, got their fourth runner in at 11th, but the fifth finisher was way off the pace; 34th, to give the pack-running Ponte Vedra team a chance to recapture their 2022 title.
Fleming Island's finishers were senior Marlea Feld at 102nd in 21:36.2, senior Sydney Fallin at 114th in 21:50.4 and junior Emma Schlotthauer in 160th at 22:39.8.
In the boy's 2A race, Keystone Heights senior Tyler Griffin finished his strong career with a 141st-place finish in 18:32.2.
In Class 1A, the St. Johns Country Day Schools girl's team finished 21st with the boys finishing 31st. The Lady Spartans were led by junior Rebecca Stratton who was 62nd in 21:07.9 followed by seventh grader Kate Staten in 113th in 22:26.4 and junior Kaitlyn Sunderhaus in 124th in 22:39. St. Johns' two seniors; Sofia Condon and Sarah Robinson finished their careers together at 151st and 152nd with two more seventh graders; Olivia Morris and Matilda Morris finishing the Spartan scoring.
For the Spartan boys, senior Richard Nichols finished his career with a 123rd in 18:19.4 with two freshmen; Arlo Kistner and Thomas Nichols behind him followed by sophomore Wyatt Hollingsworth, freshman Nathan Robinson and eighth grader Marcus Giles. Senior Timothy Jackson was the final Spartan finisher in 225th.
In Charlotte, NC, on Sat., Nov. 25, at the Foot Locker XC South Region Championship Boys race, a race to determine the top 10 runners from the South Region of the United States for the upcoming Foot Locker XC National Championship race, Fleming Island High senior Graham Myers coupled his third-place state finish with a 12th place finish in 15:10.5.
In first place was a familiar face to Fleming Island cross country in Tallahassee Leon's Patrick Koon, who won the Class 3A race in Tallahassee. Koon blitzed the field with a 14:48.6 split to edge a 14:54.8 by Kentucky's Riku Sugie. In sixth was Nease High's Matt Ryan in 14:56.1 with the top eight finishers under 15 minutes.
The Team Florida members, including Myers, was the top team score for the prestigious event with 53 points beating Tennessee's 79 and North Carolina's 106.
Also for Fleming Island's Angry Eagle Distance Runners, senior John Keester IV finished 82nd in 16:14.4, Andrew Boyer was 159th in 17:11.8, Roman Mollicone was 178th in 17:39.8, Joshua White was 195th in 18:38.4, Aiden Taggart was 201st in 19:06.0, Ronain Holliday was 202nd in 19:09.7, Mitchell Harlamor was 203rd in 19:10.0 and Jacob Campbell was 204th in 19:10.5.
In the girl's championship race, Fleming Island sophomore was top finisher in 123rd in 20:20.3 with Elizabeth Leachman of San Antonio, TX, winning in 16:33.3 ahead of seven runners all under 17 minutes. Creekside sophomore Alyson Johnson was 26th in 17:49.3 as second Florida finisher with Sarasota's Addison Dempsey top finisher at 18th in 17:39.2.
In the junior girls race, St. Johns Country Day School's Rebecca Stratton was 21st in 21:09.5 with winner Ashby Williams of South Carolina winning in 18:41.0. Fleming Island's Emma Schlotthauer finished 40th in 22:50.5.
In the boy's junior race, AJ Olivio of Middleburg was 90th in 20:56.1 and Fleming Island's Dominik Granda was 95th in 23:19.6.
In the senior race, Fleming Island's Spencer Middleton was 58th in 20:20.0.
In the girl's senior race, Fleming Island's Sydney Fallin finished 20th in 21:21.8.
In the boy's sophomore race, Fleming Island's Marcos Serrano was 82nd in 19:18.2.