Niceville Girls, Lincoln Boys Capitalize At Chiles Track & Field Relays

On-Site Coverage

On Saturday, February 17th, fifteen teams throughout north Florida came together in Tallahassee to compete at the Chiles Relays, where the majority of running events were contested as relays and the field events were scored as relays. 

The recently named Gatorade Players of the Year for Florida cross country, Chiles High School's Ana Wallace and Michael Phillips headlined the meet hosted on their home track. Phillips, a recent Syracuse commit, led his 4x800m and 4x1600m squads to commanding wins and later came back to run the 4x400m. In the 4x1600 he ran an impressive split near 4:20.

The Chiles girls winning distance medley relay time of 12:27.42 was punctuated by Wallace's near 5 minute 1600m anchor leg, resulting in a commanding lead over Niceville, who set a school record while finishing second in 12:46.05. Wallace continued to lead the Chiles distance girls to success, anchoring the 4x800m to the gold, then finished her busy day with a gritty 3200m performance, running a 10:56.01 to take second to Elizabeth Funderburk's impressive wire-to-wire 10:48.62.

Funderburk, the reigning Georgia state champion in the 3200m and cross country 5k, made the trip from her home in Colquitt County, Georgia to compete in Tallahassee, where she will soon be running for FSU. She was supported by her future Seminole teammates and coaches as she won the 3200m. After she and Wallace fought to break the coveted 11 minute barrier they later cooled down together. 

They not only proved their remarkable fitness, but demonstrated the maturity and sportsmanship that will be a valuable asset to their college teams. Wallace is deciding between Vanderbilt and FSU, so she and Funderburk may be officially teaming up in their collegiate futures.

In the end though, it was the Niceville girls' team who were the overall winners, following up last week's team victory at the Seahawk Open with the team championship at Chiles. Madalyn Kish took home the gold in the high jump and pole vault, Tykeyra Beacham won the triple jump, Chloe Hill and Mariah Carruthers went 1-2 in the discus, and their girls 4x1600m took the win over Chiles. 

The Niceville Boys came in second in the team scoring, led by Kobe Babin who won the pole vault, Elijah West and Nash Rutledge who went 1-2 in the discus and shot put, and their sprint medley team which took home gold.

Afterwards, Niceville's Coach, Jamie LaFollette said, "Today was a good day for the Eagle track team. We had some outstanding performances and more importantly were able to score points in almost every event. We expect to continue to improve throughout the season and hope to qualify more people for state than we did last year while also challenging for district and regional titles."

Lincoln High School won in the boy's team scoring, and were led by Galen Johnson, Julius Norman, and KCei Moses who went 1-2-3 in the 100m. Johnson and Norman also went 1-2 in the 200m. Charles Williams, Jaleel Howard, and Stanton Johnson went 1-2-3 in the triple jump. Their 4x100m and 4x400m relays also delivered winning performances.

The Lincoln girls took second in the team scoring and were bolstered by the performances of their sprinters. Jacquevia Jones and Jasmine Mason went 1-2 in the 100m, Lonzetta Simpkins and Jones went 2-3 in the 200m, and Faith Tillman won the 300mh. Their relays won the 4x100m and 4x400m and took second in the 4x200m and 4x800m.

In interviews after the meet many Lincoln athletes attributed their success to the camaraderie of the team. Their supportive spirit is apparent to any spectator and was witnessed in sophomore Alyson Churchill. She had a dominant freshman year, but was unable to compete in the cross country season and at Saturday's meet. She proved she is both an exceptional athlete and teammate, as she came to cheer for her fellow Trojans.

Many of the athletes who competed are setting high goals of achieving a state championship as an individual or on a relay. Many will be returning to Chiles on April 28th to compete in a stacked 3A Region 1 meet that is expected to be a showdown between Niceville and Lincoln for the team titles.