The Pine Crest girls cross country team finished as the 2A runner-up behind Bolles for the fourth straight year. The Panthers lose their top two runners from 2015 in Alyssa Pujals, the individual champion now at UF, and Julia Montgomery who signed with the College of William & Mary. Coach Baur returns the Yared sisters as well as four others from that squad and an incoming transfer who could make an immediate impact. We give you the scouting report on the 2016 Pine Crest girls. (Photo by Jeremy Danzie)
How did your team fare last season and what did you take away from 2015?
Our girls finished as State Runner-Up for the 4th year in a row to Bolles. We knew we had a great team and even after winning the FSU Pre-State Invitational we still knew that staying healthy would be the key to being on the top of the podium in November. Our girls are healthy now and spent much of the spring track season getting stronger and learning more about nutrition and vitamins. Needless to say it was tough, but a very rewarding experience for the future of our girls and program.
How is the team looking this year? What are your tentative top five and top seven?
The team is looking very strong and has great leadership from seniors Simone Vreeland and Jamie Zipper. Other returners are Tsion Yared, 2014 State Champion, Mahdere Yared, Emily Faulhaber, Amanda Schwartz and newcomer Maya Beleznay (transfer from St. Andrew's).
What are the strengths of this team?
Our strengths will be the tightness of this group and experience that they all have competing at the highest level. They have all experienced some type of adversity and have grown as a result of it. Also, their experience dealing with pressure and success they have had has prepared them to have a great year.
What has summer training been like? Have you gone to any camps?
Training has been real solid this summer and the girls have a ton of confidence as they have seen their improvement throughout the summer. We attended Brevard Distance Runners Camp and had a blast. It's always great to be able to get away as a team and running in the Mountains of NC provide some great challenges. While we were there we got to spend time with many other teams from Florida, including a joint session on race strategy with the Bolles girls. Also, Simone Vreeland earned All-American honors at the USATF Junior Olympics in the Steeplechase. It was a great experience for her and just another opportunity to find success competing at the highest level.
Any new additions who may contribute? Any surprise non-returners?
Maya Beleznay transferred from St. Andrew's in Boca Raton and will be in 9th grade. She just started running last year and has PRs of 20:06 (5k), 5:18.43 (1600m) and 11:25.91 (3200m). She has been a great addition and has quickly developed some strong friendships with the girls on the team. We are very excited to have her at Pine Crest.
What are the team goals and meets you're keying for this year?
The girls have a list of goals that they put together as a team. It's a great list that includes goals for academics, practice and different sacrifices they are going to make among other things. Big picture it would be to keep everyone healthy throughout the season and focus on defending our titles at FL Runners and Pre-State. After that, the girls hope to make it 5 years in a row on the podium at State!