Although Wewahitchka’s boys team failed to qualify, two Gator juniors finished high enough at district competition that they won the right to race at the regionals.
Adin Evans finished 22nd overall among the 115 runners with his season best time of 17:54, but David Rich suffered a hamstring injury during the race, and labored to finish in 32:45 after his season best time of 18:07 at the district meet.
“It was heartbreaking, and so sad,” said Wewa coach Karen Shiver. “But he did finish the race,” thanks to a display of remarkable sportsmanship from runners from opposing schools.
“When David got close to the finish line, boys from Pensacola Christian and Blountstown came alongside him to cheer him across the line,” said Shiver.
“At the finish line, they helped him to the medical tent. It was so touching, (and) brought tears to my eyes. We so appreciated those young men.”
The Port St. Joe girls cross country team finished a respectable eighth out of 15 teams at the FHSAA 1A Region 1 finals on Friday, October 28.
As they had done at the previous week’s district meet, Pensacola Christian runners sprinted to first place finishes in both the girls and boys events.
RJ Gerlach crossed the line first among the Tiger Shark runners, and 26th overall of the 111 competitors, with her new personal best time of 22:21.
Not far behind, Molly Partin (23:20), Katie Trochessett (23:34), Arlena Gleichner (23:35), and Ava Petersen (23:45) completed the scoring for St. Joe.
Following Gerlach’s example, Partin, Trochessett, and Gleichner saved their season best times for this race.
Hannah DaCosta (24:30) and Libby White (26:06) also competed for St. Joe.
After this season’s first meet, head coach Keion McNair felt like his girls would have a successful year. Despite some mid-season illnesses and injuries, “it ended well for us.”
“Anytime you can make it to state,” McNair said, “it’s a great season.”
With no seniors, one junior (DaCosta), and one sophomore (Gleichner) on the girls team, McNair is justified in having a positive outlook for Port St. Joe’s future in cross country competition.
The remainder of the team consisted of three ninth graders (Farrah Spring, Celie White, and Trochessett), two eighth graders (Gerlach and Partin), and three seventh graders (Kate Patrick, Petersen, and White).
With such a young team, McNair plans to “put (in) a great summer together” in preparation for next year’s competition.
Although no Port St. Joe boys qualified for the regional meet, each of the six Tiger Shark runners had personal best times at the district meet.
With only one senior on the squad, McNair has high hopes for the returning boys.