Chronicling History: Florida State Cross Country Meet By The Numbers - Part 2

Teasing Facts: Out of the 318 teams, 23.3%, almost a quarter of those teams have only been in the top 10 just once and 39% have one to two state meet top ten finishes. So you may be thinking have any of these teams taken a state title? Yes! The most surprising is the fact that one school team never was, before or after, among the top 10, but shows up only once and takes it all. That was Technology of Jacksonville in the only spring cross country meet ever held in 1953. Technology is also one of our ghost schools that have vanished in time.

In 1968 Blanche Ely of Pompano Beach came out of nowhere to take the Class A title scoring 69 then the following season improved their scoring with 58 points, only to end up runner-up to Bishop Barry's 56, being one of only a handful of teams would improve their score only to finish runner-up. Who is the other school?

Then in 1970 Union County would take the title also coming out of nowhere and followed that up the next season finishing 5th, never to be heard or seen from again!

Who is the best team without a title? Out of the top 28 schools on the list, this team is the 14th best overall and blue is a key color!

Other ghost schools include Sanford Naval Academy in Sanford which was the state runner-up in 1971 at the 2A meet behind Monsignor Pace, which has shortened their name to Pace.  SNA would make three top ten appearances from 70-74 and  went back to back in 70 & 71 only to be closed in 1977. In the FHSAA records SNA was mistakenly shown as Sanford in the meet results in 1970!

Palatka South became a ghost school shortly after it made it's one and only appearance in the top ten by finishing 6th in the 1973 3A meet that was won by Chaminade. It was essentially swallowed up with Palatka Central merging to form the new and larger Palatka High School. Also, Ricky Golden one of the very early runners that became a member the Nason Line, currently #138, ran a 9:24.40 2 mile winning the 1972 3A championship for Palatka South.

Ghosts abound in the 1956 state cross country meet as three of top ten finishing schools are no more. Salem is one of these ghost schools that virtually nothing can be found out about it.  Salem, the town, was a lumber boom town on US19 south of Perry.  Salem would take 6th at state in 1956 and never be seen again! One ghost school came from Jacksonville, DuPont, they would finish 9th in their only visit, but DuPont still functions as a middle school. Also, that same year the 3rd ghost appeared. Reddick located between Ocala & Gainesville finished 10th in their only appearance closed in 1964. All three schools made their only appearance in the top ten. Not only do they never return, but vanish as a high school altogether.

One of the most unique ghosts in Florida cross country history was Lee Jr. High. In 1962 they took 7th place and then 5th in 1963.  I have not determined, yet,  why a junior high would be allowed to compete at the high school, level but it will interesting to find out!  Lee was renamed Lee Middle School covering grades 6-8.  Lee was finally closed in 2010. Take note, that the FHSAA records incorrectly show Robert E. Lee as Lee Jr. High in the state meet results from 1962.

Later in 1964, Jennings High School would finish 8th in the Class A meet. Jennings is located on the Florida-Georgia line on US41and the school building is now home to the North Hamilton Elementary School. While n 1971 Alva High School made their only stop in the 2A meet taking 4th place since the high has closed and currently functions as a elementary & middle school. Both these school buildings are now on the US National Register of Historic Places.

Another ghost school is Pinecrest of Lithia. In 1970, the school would finish in 6th place in Class B and followed that up with a 3rd place finish in 1971 in Class 2A and never return. Pinecrest would close and its student base would be diverted to Durant High School when it opened in 1995. Pinecrest along with Alva & Sanford Naval Academy placed within the top six in 2A and all eventually including the school would disappear entirely!

On the sadder side of history, Seacrest High School, which was an all white school, made their only appearance in 1953 taking 6th in the only spring cross country meet held. Seacrest would become Atlantic High School of Delray Beach. In 1971 as a part of desegregation that would convert the all Africa-American Carver High School into Carver Middle School.  The school colors for the new combined school would come from Seacrest, green & white, but the Eagle mascot came from Carver.

Then there was North Shore High School in West Palm Beach that had finished 10th place in the 1974 3A state meet for their only appearance in the top ten. Sometime in the '80's the school would close in favor of new ones!

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