Scouting Report: Fort Walton Beach Girls & Boys

(Photos by Brad McCann)

Fort Walton Beach is one of the top cross country programs on both the boys and girls side in northwest Florida. The boys repeated as county and district champions, were fifth at 3A Region 1 (one of the toughest regionals in the state) and 10th at the 3A Cross Country Finals. The girls were county runner-up behind Niceville, but bounced back to win district, were 4th at regionals, and 6th at state. Coaches Jeff and Lissette Fields say overall the season was up and down with injuries, however, 2015 is a new year. They enter the season healthy and with a completely new team focus.

Girls Scouting Report

Coach Lissette Fields tells us this girls teams is the best they've ever had. The team's summer training has been outstanding and the speed work the group has put in has been spectacular. She is especially excited about her top three runners Brooke Crane, Emma Rudman, and South Walton transfer Maddie Fulmer. She calls the top three studs and says there is a lot of senior leadership and accomplished champions in the mix. Crane, is coming off a stellar track season where she was county, district, and regional champion in the 800 meters. She came up just short of a state title finishing third in 2:16.37. Rudman's season wasn't ideal battling injuries, but Fields sees the same fire in her eyes that brought her a 3200m championship on the track as a sophomore. Fulmer adds another experienced runner to the line up and meshes well with Crane and Rudman. Fields is confident all three will run sub 18 minutes. Returners Brooklyn Hodges, Jessica Riley, and Anna Laura Chastain are joined by Jillian Hobbs one of the top tennis players in the area. Both Jillian and her brother Jefferson joined the cross country teams for the first year and are very competitive athletes.

The girls team already has one meet under their belt after competing at this past weekend's West Florida XC Jamboree where they scored a near perfect sixteen points! Look for them to be a top contender come November!

Coach Fields Says...

"The strength of this team is that we will have three girls who can be frontrunners and 4-7 are running well and improving daily. All three of the top girls are individual champions as well and are ready for the competition. We also want to win at Disney (the boys got us a Mickey trophy one year and the girls have promised one this year, but our main goal is to win county, district, region, and get on the podium at state."

Boys Scouting Report

The boys are also looking for a return trip to the state meet. The team tried a new camp this summer, Coach Braman and FSU's Seminole Trails Camp in Tallahassee. For the Vikings it was a much close trip and a great opportunity to run some of the best trails in the Sunshine State and bond with one another.

Four of the top seven from last year's team have graduated making this group somewhat of a mystery. Coach Jeff Fields says the team has really bled talent in the past, but should field a formidable seven this season.

"All they've done this summer is work and gel as a unit. I also expect great things from them and am incredibly proud of their work ethic and commitment."

Part of that talent will come from standouts in other sports joining the cross country program. Daniel Orcutt trades in his swim cap for racing flats, while tennis star Jefferson Hobbs also joins the crew with his sister. They will be joined by freshman Kadrin Cabrera who Fielsd says has huge potential and talent, along with Mason Krallman, Harrison Jourdan, George McCann, Sage Delfino, Parker Dewrell, and Daniel Smith who have all logged a good amount of miles this summer and will vie for varsity spots.

Dillon Rice, Jefferson Hobbs (tennis star), Kadrin Cabera (9th grader with huge potential and talent), Mason Krallman , Daniel Orcutt (swim champ), Harrison Jourdan, George McCann, Sage Delfino, Parker Dewrell, and Daniel Smith will all vie for varsity spots and all have really put in a lot of miles and come together as a team this summer.

That close knit group with no pure front runner will mean the Vikings must rely on pack running to be competitive throughout the season. For the boys the goals are to win county and district championships, compete well at regional, and qualify for state. Fields adds that regionals is their key meet this year as they grow as a team.

Coach Field's Final Thoughts

"We want to dedicate our season to our recently lost friends and mentors Coach Jeff Sommer of Estero and Coach Kris Keppel of Land O Lakes. Their passion for the sport and the kids was unmatched. Jeff created the program you measured yourself against and yet was always quick to praise your program. Kris motivated and supported his kids up until his last breath. They both left indelible marks on their programs and all of us who were lucky enough to have known them. We are still working on the exact dedication, but are looking into putting a memorial statement on our team shirts."

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