Ashley Brasovan (Wellington) proved why she is ranked #2 in the nation. Against some of the finest competition in the nation including defending national champion Kathy Kroeger, Floridians Emilie Amaro and Kayla Hale, and several other 2006 Footlocker finalists Brasovan closed the race with a fine last mile to extend her lead and win the Nike Race of Champions at Great American. In fact, she didn't just win: she destoryed the field. Kroeger, coming back from some issues that kept her sidelined during the spring, was the second place finisher--over 30 seconds behind Brasovan. Brasovan's time was 17:05.6.
Emilie Amaro (Cypress Bay) looked very impressive though, defeating nationally ranked Emily Reese of Georgia, for a 18:00.7 third place performance. Kayla Hale (Holy Trinity), who reportedly was fighting off illness this week, was 28 second back from Amaro in sixth place. The "big three" represented Florida in fine style in the big race. Other top Floridian finishers individually were Katie Traylor (Episcopal) in 14th place 18:59.5 and Ashley Shiver (Satellite) 27th 19:28.7.
The Episcopal girls, coming off a big win last week at flrunners 8 against then nationally ranked Eleanor Roosevelt, had somewhat of a disappointing fifth place showing this week. They of course did face some really good teams including Mountain Brook AL, ranked #7 in the MileSplit national rankings, who won the race. But they clearly did not get the performance they were hoping for out of their 4 and 5 runners. They are clearly the top team in Florida (although Lourdes and is closing the gap), but if they want to earn at a spot at NTN they will need to either develop some more power up front or tighten up their 1-5 gap (which last year they were amazing in this regard). Holy Trinity finished in 10th place (helped incredibly by the fact that Kayla Hale scored 1 point as the first individual finisher on a team) and Satellite was 12th.
On the boys side, Eric Larson of Pensacola Washington was the first Florida finisher with a time of 16:03.0 (winner was 15:37.0) for sixth place. I don't think this makes Larson a favorite to qualify for Footlocker Nationals at this point, but it at least puts him on the radar screen as a potential dark horse. Jake Brooks of Ft. Myers was the next Florida finisher with a time of 16:22.1 for 22nd place. Brooks won the large school division easily last week at flrunners 8, which really put him on the map as one of Florida's finest (for those who looked behind the ROC in last week's results!). Kyle Cooke, who on any given week can be one of the top few runners from Florida, had another off week with a 23rd place 16:26.6. Word on the street is it's a mental thing and hopefully Kyle can get over that by the time the post-season rolls around. He really should be the 1A state champ this year and a potential Footlocker finalist (which is his goal). Derek Wehunt (Sickles) Bret Butler (Holy Trinity), and Ciprian Mejia (Sickles) were the other top Floridians--going 16:33.8 (27th), 16:42.3 (32nd), and 16:43.6 (33rd) respectively.
Sickles and Holy Trinity were the team representaives from Florida in this race and both had a fantastic top two, but were lackluster after that. Dan Wehunt of Sickles is still struggling back from injury. He was 88th place in 17:36.5.
In other divisions...
St. Thomas Aquinas had a great outing, easily winning the Girls Red Invitational with 37 points, second place Pope GA had 90 points. They were dominant up front with 2-4-5-6 finishes for their top four: Lauren Ross 20:09, Nicole Suarez 20:31, Jessica Butler 20:52 and Natalie Sesto 21:18. Great team outing on a "hilly" course (by our standards at least!). Buchholz finished in a very respectable 4th place in that same race, lead by Mary Kate Barnes in 21:34 (8th place).
In the Boys Red Invitatioanl, Dr. Phillips finished in 5th place with a team average of 18:28, behind 18th and 19th place performances of Alex Mund and Ryan Dey (18:08.5, 18:08.7, respectively).
Niceville was the top Florida team in the Seeded Division, just one point out of fifth place and a 21:35 team average. Morgan Keel lead the way for Niceville with a 22nd place 21:02 outing. Sickles finished in 15th place in that race.
Florida was represented well in the Boys Seeded race with Buchholz, Niceville, and Satellite finishing in 3rd, 4th, and 8th places, respectively. Buchholz had a really great day with top 20 performances out of their top three boys: Phillip Wise 4th 17:08, Sean Foster 7th 17:08, and Carter Robertson 20th 17:38. But the top Florida finisher in this race was Loring Ross of Niceville. The Virginia import has come on strong this year and took 2nd place with a time of 16:41.2. He was joined in the top ten with teammate Tom Reho in 8th place 17:13.
Finally in the boys small school race, Episcopal's men battled to 4th place and an 18:33 team average, behind strong showings from Jared Greigas and Greg Kennedy who finished in 8th and 11th places in 17:38 and 17:45.