It was a masterpiece performance by the Port St. Joe girls cross country team last week, as they easily took home the district crown on their home track.
The boys team nearly duplicated that achievement, but had to settle for runner-up in a hairsbreadth finish to Blountstown.
“You lose by two points and you start second guessing a whole bunch of stuff,” said boys coach T.C. Brewer. “I thought we had a chance, we just came up short.
“We had guys run faster than they ever have and some guys didn’t run as fast,” he said. “I thought personally that it was going to be tight. The points may not say it but any of those teams on a really good day could have won the whole thing.”
What the points said, for the boys, was that Blountstown, with 46 was just two points better than Port St. Joe with 48, the Tigers posting an average time for the 5,000 meter race of 21:03, eight seconds faster than The Tiger Sharks, Malone finished a more distant third, ahead of Wewahitchka and Graceville and the lone runners from Franklin County, Sneads and Cottondale whose races counted for individual honors but not in the team standings.
Blountstown sophomore Austin Pennington won the district with more than a half-minute to spare, posting a 19:17.90 to Malone eighth grader Jackson Welch’s 19:50.50.
In third and fourth places were Port St. Joe junior Ricky Forbes, with a 19:52.00, and sophomore Walker Chumney, with a 20:31.80.
Earning a berth in Friday’s regionals at Jacksonville’s New World Sports Complex was Wewahitchka freshman Adin Evans, who finished fifth with a 20:41.60.
Port St. Joe junior Parker Hicks ran a 21:09.60 for seventh. Also qualifying for districts, in 11th and 12th place finish respectively, were Wewahitchka freshmen David Rich, whose 21:35.20 was almost three seconds faster than Jeffrey McGlon’s 21:37.90.
Joining their team in advancing to districts was Tiger Shark seventh grader Stratton Levins, in 15th place with a 21:57.00; senior Noah Barfield in 20th place with a 22:28.10; freshman Dylan Davis with a 22:52.30 for 22nd place; senior Austin Jones, in 25th place with a 23:05.90; freshman John Cullen, in 30th place with a 24:32.30; sophomore Christian Peacock with a 25:55.50, for 32nd; and seventh grader Nathan Lipford, with a 25:57.40 for 33rd place.
The other Wewa runners to compete at districts were, in 27th place, seventh grader Brayden Kemp with a 23;54.30; seventh grader Wyatt Linton in 36th with a 28:45.50, eighth grader James Clark in 41st place with a 31:44.00, just ahead of sophomore Myka Steele with a 32:44.10 and junior Jaaron Evans with a 33:52.50.
The Lady Sharks, coached by Keion McNair, were a tornado to the rest of the field’s gentle breezes as they took five of the top seven finishes, including district champ junior Madelyn Gortemoller, with a time of 24:11.90, and runner-up seventh grader Katie Trochessett, who ran a 25:14.20.
Finishing in fifth, sixth and seventh were junior Kristen Bouington, with a 26:08.50; freshman Hannah DaCosta with a 26:09.10 and freshman Arlena Gleichner with a 26:11.20.
All told the team tallied just 18 points, two dozen better than Blountstown’s 42, and exceedingly faster than Wewahitchka’s 98, a third-place finish that will take the team to regionals.
Finishing in fourth and fifth were Graceville and Sneads, with the rest of the field including runners from Malone, Franklin County, Altha and Cottondale.
“The girls did what they were expected to do,” said Brewer. “Our girls have dominated this district.”
The Wewa girl runners, coached by Jacob Bidwell, included in 20th place, eighth grader Haley Weston, with a time of 29:57.90; in 22nd place sophomore Kiera Desrosier with a 29:58.70 time; in 25th place sophomore Bethany Jenkins with a 30:33.50 time; in 28th place, eighth grader Riley Book who ran a 30:58.60; in 35th place freshman Allie Archibald who finished with a 32:28.60 run; and in 37th place freshman Savana Mayhann who ran a 34:20.40, just ahead of 38th place eighth grader Katelyn Kemp, who ran a 35:31.10.
In a round-up of this season, the Port St. Joe boys placed second in the Blountstown meet Sept. 30, as junior Ricky Forbes placed seventh, freshman Russel Dunn had a personal record for 11th place, sophomore Walker Chumney set a personal best and placed 12th, freshman Dylan Davis placed 14th, and junior Parker Hicks placed 17th.
The girls team took a first as Gortermoller placed first, Bouington fourth, DeCosta sixth, placed 6th, senior Savannah Burkett eighth, and Gleichner 12th.
Both teams ran in the 50 for Florida fundraiser Oct. 10 at Port St. Joe. For the boys, Forbes placed first, Chumney second, Davis third, Peacock fourth, Levins fifth, Cullen sixth, Jones placed seventh, Barfield eighth, and for the girl Gortermoller was ninth.
This article originally appeared on The Star: Tiger Shark runners rule district cross-country