More than 200 runners converged on Sam Adkins Park in Blountstown Thursday morning, October 20, for the FHSAA 1A District 1 cross country meet. Thirteen girls teams and 14 boys teams participated.
In impressive fashion, Pensacola Christian athletes swept both the girls and boys events, while the girls from Port St. Joe finished in fourth place, which allows the top seven Tiger Shark ladies to compete at regionals.
Of the 110 girls who raced, the first five runners to cross the line, and 10 of the first 12, wore Pensacola Christian uniforms.
“(Pensacola Christian) has a summer running program,” said Shark coach Keion McNair. “All of my girls play soccer and don’t run during the summer, so to be able to get them to where (they are now) is a blessing.”
As she has often done, RJ Gerlach led the St. Joe girls with a time of 22:53, followed by Ava Petersen (23:17) and Arlena Gleichner (23:56), all season best times.
Other St. Joe runners setting personal bests were Katie Trochessett (24:04), Hannah DaCosta (24:23), and Libby White (25:01). Molly Partin (25:18) rounded out the top seven Shark runners who will run at regionals.
Kate Patrick (26:27), Farrah Spring (a season best 28:10), and Celie White (32:06) also ran for St. Joe. Cameron Easter (32:29) was the lone runner from Wewahitchka in girls action.
Although all six of the St. Joe boys runners set season best times, “we were not able to qualify” for regionals, said McNair, because the team finished in 12th place, and needed to be in the top eight to move on. A total of 124 boys raced in the event.
Dylan Davis led St. Joe with a 19:16, with Nathan Lipford not far behind at 19:29. Russel Dunn and Jackson Touchston finished in 21:34 and 21:43, respectively, followed by Britt White (23:09) and Dane Fosshage (24:34).
Although he has coached the girls cross country squad for years, this was McNair’s initial foray with the boys team. “We need to be able to get more guys out for next season, and keep these boys dedicated,” he said.
Even though Wewa failed to qualify as a team, David Rich and Aiden Evans will compete at the regionals due to their high finishes, with times of 18:07 (13th place) and 18:30 (21st), respectively. Rich established his season best time during the race.
Finishing 10th overall, Wewa had a total of 10 runners in the boys event.
Kaden Brooks (20:40), Davy Gray (20:59), Calvin Carpender (22:26), Camden Winden (23:59), Conner Roberts (24:58), Ryan Coxwell (25:19), and Eli Evans (26:32) all set personal best times. Bryce Ethridge finished with a 27:06.
Hosted by the Bolles School, the Region 1 competition will be held at the New World Sports Complex in Jacksonville on Friday, October 28.
Starting time for the girls race will be at 9:00 a.m., with the boys to follow at 9:30.