Stratton and friends chase Harrison again

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 10/6/21

JACKSONVILLE - With Nease High’s Rheinhardt Harrison, the two-time Class 4A champion, scorching a new Florida cross country record, the rest of the elite runners, which included St. Johns Country …

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Stratton and friends chase Harrison again

Posted

JACKSONVILLE - With Nease High’s Rheinhardt Harrison, the two-time Class 4A champion, scorching a new Florida cross country record, the rest of the elite runners, which included St. Johns Country Day School senior Matthew Stratton, in the boys field at the New World Fall Spectacular cross country invitational on Saturday at the New World Golf course at Cecil Field Air Base had to be content to give chase and stay in the top five on what would become one of the fastest races in Florida.

“The race was a lot of grit with how fast everyone went out,” said Stratton, fourth in a personal best time of 15 minutes, 10 seconds. “I love this kind of race. I love this kind of experience

because these are the best guys in the state if not the country. The state meet is going to be way harder and I have a little time to try to get to that sub-15 time before I graduate.”

Harrison, headed to University of Oregon next fall to run in the prestigious Ducks program, did as expected with a 14 minute, 45 second winning time to set a new Florida cross country record with Viera senior Michael Toppi (5th in 4A last year) fighting off a final surge by Stratton (3rd in 1A last year) and Leon High’s Patrick Koon (5th in 3A last year) to finishing second in an equally impressive 14:55.00. Koon finished third in 15:05 with Stratton fourth in a new school record and personal best of 15:10. Stratton hit 15:22 two weeks ago.

“Patrick (Koon) put in a good surge after first mile,” said Stratton. “I stayed about 5-6 seconds off him knowing I may have a better kick if he extends himself during the race.”

Overall, the top seven runners bettered 16 minutes while the top 41 were under 17 minutes making the race one of the fastest in recent history.

“Everyone kind of went with Rheinhardt at the start and we reeled him in near the last mile,” said Stratton. “He was turning around to see where we were and told me after the race that he kind of relaxed the last 300 yards.”

In the action packed team scores, Viera held off a surging Creekside squad to win 58-59 with Nease third at 87 and Leon fourth at 156. Fleming Island’s boys, led by sophomore John Keester IV’s 24th place 16:29 and a 25-26 finish by Danny Sakowski and Alex Bendig at 16:30, 16:31 finished seventh at 204.

St.Johns sophomore Graham Myers finished 13th in 16:16 to boost the Spartans boys team to an 11th place finish. Middleburg finished 19th, Oakleaf finished 22nd and Clay finished 27th.

Oakleaf junior Duane Lee finished at 132nd in 18:50 just ahead of Middleburg’s senior Corey Rhoads in 134th. Clay High’s William Etheridge was top Blue Devil at 154th in 19:27.

Meets upcoming include, on October 9, the Golden Eagles Invitational, the Craig Speziale Invitational at Ponte Vedra High and the Bobcat Classic at Buchholz High.

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