Jim Ryun Invitational: Runners Ride The Wave, Test Out New Racing Format

On-Site Coverage

The 5th Annual Jim Ryun Invitational had a different flare to it this year. After running last year, on the inaugural Holloway Park course, the meet once again returned, but instead of the standard varsity and junior varsity races, Meet Director Paul White decided on a wave format. Never been done in Florida for a high school race (we believe), each team had their number ones run against each other, two's, three's, all the way down to the number sevens. The idea behind this is that every kid gets a chance to compete with runners in a similar placing, and also have a chance to win a varsity race. It also makes the race more individual. Several athletes told me they loved being able to run their own race, while some enjoyed the presence of their teammates to push them toward a top time. 

In the girl's number one race, Emily Headley and Alex Eaton were in front at the one mile mark, but Circle Christian's Denae Christian emerged at the final chute, with no Eaton in sight. Headley, a junior at Olympia and Chapman have battled it out since they were sixth graders at meets throughout the years, and the Jim Ryun Invite was no different. Headley edged out Chapman at the line by seven tenths of a second in a time of 19:12.80. Eaton was third in 19:45.00. The team scoring was based on the average of each individual's time. Olympia won the number one, five, six and seven races, while Shorecrest Prep (Eaton's team) won the number two and three races. However, it was Lake Mary who won the number four race with Nikki Demeter, that took home the team trophy. Their team average of 21:17.48 was ten seconds better than Olympia's and 20 seconds better than that of Shorecrest Prep.

The boy's number one race belonged to Nicholas Gonzalez of the Geneva School. Gonzales and Lake Mary's Ryan DeGale paced off each other throughout the race and led for the 3.1 miles. Both are used to having their top teammates being side by side, but in this race, they didn't have that so had to use each other. Gonzalez sprinted past DeGale at the finish to get the win in a time of 16:40.60. DeGale was second in 16:42.10. Gonzalez's teammate Isak Davis won the number two race with what would have been the number four overall time, 17:01.00. Their times helped The Geneva School to a second place showing in the team standings. McKeel Academy who won the number three, four, five, six, and seven individual races won the team trophy with an average of 17:40.88. They will be a team to watch in the 2A race.

Race Video by Dean Headley/Video Interviews by Todd Grasley