Buchholz Coach Ron Norris has been running meets longer than I have been running. …. that is a long time. In the early 80’s while at Newberry High School, he was one of the first to stage a large invitational of 25 or more teams. Offering ribbons and medals to the top 25 and then 50 individuals, his meets valued the hard work and effort that the kids had put into the sport he loves so much. Then, with the move to Buchholz in 2001, he continued with his Bobcat Classic which grew in numbers. The list of athletes that have run the meet is peppered with many of the stars of yesteryear: Jeremy Criscione, Chris Godwin, Michael Anderson, Shelby Hayes, Colin Barker, Brian Atkinson, Rachel Givens, Jimmy Clark and Lily Williams.
Saturday, Sante Fe College will play host to the 13th Bobcat Classic on the same course that will serve as the Region 1-4A Championships. With predicted 10% chance of rain and temperatures in the high 60’s and low 70’s, the racing conditions should be perfect for some great competition and personal best times.
Girl’s Individual Preview
Buchholz junior, Sarah Edens, enters the race with a razor thin edge over the field. In fact, Edens was beaten by sophomore teammate and second fastest runner in the field, Isabella Whelan by one second and one place at the Mtn Dew Invitational three weeks ago. Edens’ progression has been dramatic. 31st at last year’s Bobcat Classic in 22:36, she has lopped off nearly three minutes. Even this year, she opened with a 21:20 at the Bobcat Jamboree and has slowly progressed finishing in a personal best of 19:35.86 to finish 7th at the Alligator Lake Invitational two weeks ago. Whelan is just a step behind finishing in 19:43 to finish 9th at Alligator Lake. She was 10th at Bobcat last year. Lake Brantley’s duo of Sinclaire Johnson (19:43 and 7th place at flrunners.com invitational) and Shannon Grace(19:53 and 15th place at flrunners.com invitational division) should make this race a close that will give spectators a nice view of the final 600 meters.
Girl’s Team Preview
With six of the top 13 teams in their region ranked ahead of them in the current 4A polls, Lyman, Lake Brantley, and Buchholz will look to continue their upward progression to secure one of the sux state qualifying spots on November 2nd. The teams are awfully close. Lake Brantley wins this one in the virtual meet over Buchholz by a scant six points (54-60). Looming another ten points (70 points) behind is a slowly improving Eastside Ram’s team. Lyman’s 21:17 average for 15th place finish at flrunners.com invitational make them a close contender as well as they finished behind Lake Brantley’s 20:59 average and 7th place finish. Buchholz had a 21:13average for 7th place at Alligator Lake, sat out last week and will be running on their home course. Eastside’s 19th place finish, a 21:31average in the flrunners.com invitational and another “home” course advantage should make them a bit closer in the team title race than the virtual meet shows. With all the teams improving so much, it remains to be seen if one will rise to the top.
Boy’s Individual Preview
PK Yonge senior Joe Janson is the heavy favorite to win his first Bobcat title on Saturday. He finally dipped under the 16 minute barrier with a 15:57 for 20th place in the flrunners.com ROC division after toying with near misses at Mtn Dew( 16:04) and Alligator Lake (16:00). It landed him in a heap at the finish line, but surely one barrier broken and a goal met. The senior was runner-up last year at Bobcat and will be looking to close the gap on Andrew Cacciatore and Troy Clark in upcoming weeks to have a chance at the 1A state title on November 9th. Behind him is a slew of up and comers. Lyman sophomore, Jordan Armstrong clocked a personal best of 16:24 to finish 43rd in the ROC at flrunners. He was 56th at Mtn Dew in 17:02 and has cut into Janson’s time spread by 31 seconds in that two week span. His teammate, sophomore Joshua Jacques, was supplanted by Armstrong as the team’s number 1 runner this season (16:49 and 38th place at Mtn Dew), but still posted a 16:34 for 56th place at the flrunners.com ROC. Sophomore Blake Lowery of Gainesville is another one to watch. He was 7th at Bobcat last year in 17:22 and posted a personal best of 16:36 at Alligator Lake in the green division. That was followed by a 16:48 for 3rd at the muddy Ponte Vedra Invitational.
Boy’s Team Preview
Seventh ranked Class 4A Lyman wins this one handily over unranked 4A Buchholz by 21(33-54). The Greyhound’s Jordan Armstrong, Joshua Jacques, Mike Krig and Charlie LeGrand are penciled in to finish in the top ten giving them a formidable 1-4 punch. Last year, the Buchholz Bobcats were just two points shy of the title losing out 61-63 to the Greyhounds. This year, an injury to last year’s 3rd placer, John Dougherty, has slowed the Bobcats. A 17:10 at Alligator Lake shows an improvement for the 16:19 performer at the 3A FHSAA Cross Country Finals, but he and the Bobcats need to be a bit better to contend with Lyman’s top four and give the Bobcats a chance. Strong performances from Andrew Monteau, Karsten Pease, Adam Dougherty and an ever improving Tommy Howell could narrow the margin the Greyhounds have over the Bobcats. Sixth ranked PK Yonge is next best with Eastside and Gainesville High battling it out for city bragging rights on familiar surroundings.