Cross Country Countdown: #4 FHSAA 3A Girls

Key Returners:

Natalie Abernathy

Emily Culley

Claire Openshaw

Valerie Lastra

Lillian Holtery

Key Teams:

Creekside HS

Chiles HS

Osceola HS 

The FHSAA 3A classification will be an exciting class to watch this season. With 10 girls capable of the sub 19 minute 5k barrier and many going well under 11 minutes in the 3200m this past track season, we can plan to see some major PRs going into this cross country season.

Ana Wallace, out of Chiles HS, Alayna Goll, out of Estero HS, and Claire Moritz, out of Ponte Vedra HS, are three of the recent graduates to finish top 8 in the 2017 state championship. There will be some fun competition amongst the top athletes in this class.

Claire Openshaw, a junior at Creekside HS, is coming into this season with the fastest combined 3200m and 1600m out of any girl in any classification in Florida. With a 10:36 3200m and 4:52 1600m, she is on trajectory to improve her 18:09 5k PR.

Read: Best Combined 1600 & 3200 Times Among Girls XC Returnees 

Openshaw will not be alone. Valerie Lastra, a junior at Mater Academy Charter, follows Openshaw with a 10:44 3200m and 4:52 1600m this past track season. Lastra and Openshaw are joined by Emily Culley, a senior at Chiles HS, who ran a 10:50 3200m and 5:05 1600m. With 5k PRs all in the low 18 minute range, there is bound to be significant improvements with these track times. Not only are all three of these athletes quick in their track season, but they have been consistent as well. In every distance that they specialize in, there are consistent with their times and performances in each race.

Keep an eye out for Natalie Abernathy, a senior from Land O' Lakes HS, and Lillian Holtery, a sophomore from Niceville HS. These athletes will add depth and strength to this field.

With such a strong group of athletes, there comes a tough team competition. Openshaw leads along with her teammates Elizabeth Iliff and Blake Petrick to put Creekside at the top of the preseason rankings. Followed close behind is Chiles HS with Culley leading along with teammates Caitlin Wilkey and Lindsay James.

Watch out for Taylor Stone and Meghan Gregoire and their team, Osceola HS. Stone has a 5k PR of 18:23 and will be amongst the leaders this season. Gregoire, has a 5k PR of 20:13, but this past track season she steadily improved her 3200m and 1600m PRs running 11:26 and 5:22. With times like these, she is on the path to a new 5k PR.

With a very strong field of individuals and a tough team competition, the 3A girls will be an exciting classification to watch as the season unfolds.