The meet couldn’t have started out better from a coaching standpoint. The coaches meeting had tons of food and drinks, talking breakfast sandwiches and all. The host, Coach Simpson, is the life of the meet and keeps everything fun for the kids and coaches. Not to mention he offered golf cart rides to the mile markers if you got to a cart fast enough. I was spoiled, Oh wait, nope I ran to every mile marker. Had only I put the same effort into making to a golf cart instead.
The girls race went off with a bang, it was like the scene in insert Prefontaine movie where at the start of the race he is out in front by a ton. Junior Sophie Chase, 2010 Footlocker qualifier, from Lake Braddock, VA was out front. She ran a mere 5:16 for the first mile with her teamate Hannah Christen 29seconds back, who had her own 15-20 second lead. The Lake Braddock team had 1,2,5,7,16 at the mile. As I made my way around the great course at North Port to the 2 mile mark, which is strategically placed for anticipation purposes. The runners come from an unseen location around a corner to a 60-80m straight away. As you can see from the video at the 2 mile mark Chase extended her lead to 30seconds and Hannah to 40 seconds over 3rd place, which 3rd and 4th were Lake Braddock runners. They would wind up in 1-4 and 14th for a team score of 24 and an average of 19:08. When I interviewed Sophie she seemed eager to come back next year to go after the course record of 17:18 held by Fleur, whom she met last year in San Diego.
There girls would then go on to take 1-5 in the JV race with a team average of 22:09 which would have put their JV in 5th place of the Varsity race. The JV girls were led by Misha Suresh in a time of 21:19 which would have placed her in 23rd of the Varsity race.
The top Florida Team and finisher would come from Sarasota Riverview with Abigail Hagan finishing in 4th with a time of 19:44 and a second place team score of 98 with an average of 20:55. Keeping all 6 of their runners in the top 45.
The guys race was far closer for the indivdual and team titles. It seemed from the beginning that Nick Tuck of Lake Braddock would push the pace and see who would go with him. He went through the mile in 4:56 with a pack of 8 chasing him about 4-5 seconds back led by Brendan Shearman of Ft. Myers and Courtland Bernard of Sarasota HS. Would he be able to keep them back was the question on most of the coaches I spoke to’s mind. Sophie was a known commodity, Nick was not as known. He would increase that lead though as we reached the 2 mile 10:15 extending his lead to 10 seconds. Courtland and Brendan were laying chase though and seemed to leave their chase pack by 10 seconds as well. In the end Tuck would go on to a PB of 15:59 with Courtland (16:18) and Shearman (16:26) about where they were at the 2 mile. The team race was very tight as well. Lake Braddock had 2 in the top 5 and Ft. Myers has 3 in the top 10. Through 3 runners the teams were tied, but as 4 and 5 would come in for Lake Braddock in the top 20 both ahead of the #4 for Ft. Myers it was a done deal Lake Braddock by 20 points over Ft. Myers and 29 Points over Sarasota HS. Apparantly noone told the Lake Braddock boys, cause as I interviewed the quite humble and pleasant Tuck he is quite jubilant and excited to go tell his team the great news.
Ft. Myers would get their vengance in the JV boys race though. Seeing the entire (50 or so) man roster of Ft. Myers at the last few meets is quite a site. Their JV would go on to put their top 5 in the top 7 Lead by Mitchell Mason with a time of 18:21. Ft. Myers and Lake Braddock JV boys would have team averages of 18:41 and 18:51 respectfully. This would have placed them in 6th and 8th in the Varsity race. Looks like these teams will be good for a few years to come.
All in all the meet is one not to miss. The course is very viewer friendly, marked perfectly, measured accurately ( a point of contention on the discussion board every week), its not too far off the beaten I75 path, and the host, Coach Simpson, is second to none (with the exception of maybe the 9-11 meet director). Its always great to see how our Florida kids fair against some of the best in other states, we just happened to run into a Footlocker qualifier this year.