Ralph's Musings: The 37th Astronaut Classic

Having never covered the meet, I have to admit the name--Astronaut Classic--had my mind working overtime.  Would there be a bunch of our rocket men toeing the starting line?  Or would the signal to start the meet be a missile launch, like when the Blue Angels do a flyover before a Memorial Day parade?   

Being a correspondent means being prepared for any contingency, so I decided to Google it.  I typed in "Running Astronauts" and came up with more possibilities than I expected: Astronaut Suni Williams to Run Boston Marathon in Space (would that be horizontally, or vertically?); NASA Worried It's Running Out of Astronauts (or perhaps out of running astronauts?); Astronaut's Last Test Run (a pre-launch time trial?); Bungee Cords Keep Astronauts Grounded (down here, or up there, I wondered) ; Former Astronaut to Run NASA (does NASA sponsor races?)and finally Astronauts Run Into Toilet Trouble…at which point I decided to wait until race day to find out how this one would play out. 

Race morning dawned a Kodachrome day…which, in the era of digital cameras, may require some more Googling.  (Try Paul Simon.) 37 teams added up to 216 Varsity Boys, 230 Varsity Girls, 262 JV Boys, 226 JV Girls, and four really wide starting lines. 

Varsity Boys

Cocoa Beach's Tyler Davidson made short work of all but one of his competition, and he too was way back when the finish line came into view. 

"Somebody from Vierra (junior Hashg Tovre) was with me for the first mile.  I went out in 4:45," explained Davidson later.  "I felt him drop off, and then put it in cruise control." 

From that point on, about the only challenger he seemed to have was a seasonal "bug" that has taken a bite out of the early season times, but not the enthusiasm of the runners on the course. 

"I had a little something…sniffles.  But I felt pretty good.  Overall it was a good race." 

His final time, 15:45.60, was the best time of the day, but Davidson wasn't about to get overconfident about the win. 

"Fl-Runners is in two weeks. It will be really competitive: Matt Mizereck from Leon, his teammate Will Stanford…Michael Wallace and Colin Barker from Bishop Kenney….It should be a very exciting day, to say the least." 

The 6'0" 142 pound senior is a former baseball pitcher who found his calling rather indirectly. 

"I only started running two years ago.  I ran cross country in tenth grade to train for baseball.  I fell in love with running. The first day, I said 'This is where I want to be.'  

"But I had an injury that year.  I tore my abductor muscle.  So my first track season was last year, in the eleventh grade.  I ran the mile and two mile.  I hit 4:24 in the mile.  I never had the chance to do well in the two mile because the mile came first, but I ran a 9:52." 

That injury, however, pointed Davidson's career compass towards a pre-med program, and eventually a degree in sports medicine. Although he hasn't decided on which college, UF, Columbia, Cornell, Stanford, and Georgetown are on the list. There's still lots of time for him to make his mark on the local running scene. 

"(In cross country) my main goal this season is to go under 15 and make Foot Locker.  For track, I want to hit a low four, maybe 4:08, in the mile and right around nine minutes in the two mile.  I feel that I have a lot left in me, that I can drop lower." 

Varsity Boys Team Race

My theory is, the further a team travels to a race, the better they are. (It could be a looong ride home.) In past seasons, Edgewater (and Astronaut) had its Warwick Valley (NY), Embry Riddle had its Mountain view (Va.), and now Astronaut has had its Hoover (Alabama).  

Named after William--not Herbert or J. Edgar, as one would suppose--a businessman from Birmingham, the team was certainly all that.  Led by third place finisher David Hudman, they beat their nearest challenger (Lyman) by 131 points: 3-5-12-21-24-56-80 for 65 points. 

Hudman, a senior, transferred from 2A Shades Mountain Christian School, but had to sit out last year at 6A Hoover (with 2500 students) while they finished second in the state XC meet. This year he, as well as his coach and team, hopes Hoover will reverse that finish. 

    "Me and (junior) Brian Propst worked together the first mile," explained senior David Hudman. "There were two guys ahead, and then the second guy (Tovre) came

    back.  We worked our way up through a steady stream of people.  Second place (Rudloff) was knocking at the door of "15." I caught a group of three…. 

"As a team, we ran well.  We are very competitive with Mountain Brook High School in Alabama.  They are the defending state champions, and have been looking good all year.  We hope we have what it takes to give them a run at the State Championship." 

But the weekend, which began at the Mt. Dew Invitational on Friday night, is nowhere near over for the Hooverites.  The afternoon of the meet the team will visit the Kennedy Space Center.  Next comes dinner, and everyone has been instructed to save some leftovers for that night.  It seems that their coach has arranged for them to do a little shark fishing, and chum is on the menu for the finned fish.  Tomorrow, Sunday, the survivors will visit Universal.  (I forgot to warn them about Amity, and the town's most famous resident!) I guess it is a good thing that they went shark fishing first.   

Footnotes:  Two races for Hoover in a little over 14 hours, and yet they ran better the second time!  Hudman was half a second slower, but a place higher than at Mt. Dew; Propst, Harvey, Taylor, and Owen ran faster at Astronaut and the team finished a place higher (second to Dr. Phillips on Friday night)…. Alabama is a long trip, but nothing to compare to that of Junior/Senior Hiroyoshi Tsuchida, a foreign exchange student from Toyama, Japan. Having just been cleared by FHSAA this past week, this was his first cross country race. His 31st place finish (17:26.30) places him fifth among the 5 Star Conference finishers in the race.  Although Hiroyoshi never ran XC back home, he does have a 10:09 3000 meter steeplechase in his portfolio. 

JV Boys

Ransom freshman Eddie Bustamante (18:00.1) out sprinted Hoover's Josh Box (18:00.4) to win his first race, but alas the Hoover team placed five runners in the top 11 to outscore the southernmost entry, 28 (2-4-5-6-11-16-23) to 50 (1-8-12-14-15-35-82).  Spruce Creek was the third team with under a hundred points (9-10-18-19-20-25-27; 76). 

Girls Varsity

Paul Ransom High School (the nation's first two-campus migratory boarding school; the other  campus being in the Adirondacks of New York State) is located in the Coconut Grove section of Miami (where, when it rains, it swamps).  It is the also the daytime stomping grounds of one very fast tenth grader, Nicole Caprio. 

"Today, I didn't start out as fast as I usually do…but the last two miles were decent," or so Caprio claimed afterwards.  

As fast as she is humble, she "may" have let a few members of another green-team  (Flagler-Palm Coast) get a teasingly tiny one time lead, but it wasn't long before it disappeared like free Gatorade in Gainesville on a Gator game day.  By the mile--which she ran in 5:42--she was so far ahead that the outcome of the Girls Varsity race was no longer in doubt, only whether she would get to the finish before the timer remembered to start the race clock.  She won.  In 18:34; a full minute and two seconds (and a half) before Mollie Jones of Geneva (19:36), who had 14 seconds before the next fleet footed runner (Victoria Cabrera in 19:50.7). 

Her cross country goals? 

"For starters, I need to stay injury free.  I didn't run track because I injured my back and hips.  I want to do well at States and run Footlocker. Right now I'm not positive of the time I will have to run, because the top runners graduated." 

Most, perhaps, but not all.  One name that is currently at, or near,  the top is Nicole Caprio. 

Girls Varsity Team Race

Although there were a number of top girls' teams thrown into the mix, Hagerty freshman Bryce Seymore's finish was the difference. All tangled up in a pack with five other girls that raced together and finished together--two from Timber Creek, two from Olympia, and one from Flagler-Palm Coast (two of whom were also freshman)--her sixth place finish proved to be the margin of victory.  Without that sixth, a well-matched team from Cocoa Beach would have won, 138 to 144.  The final score, however, was Hagerty 108 (6-21-23-27-31-42-51), Cocoa Beach 138 (18-22-28-29-41-61-63). 

Girls JV

Senior Ileis Figueroa ran a varsity time (she would have finished 34th, but Osceola didn't have a varsity team entered) of 21:27.90 to win the individual title.  Spruce Creek won the battle of "teams coming over the next hill." Led by Faith Strasser's fifth place finish (fourth in the scoring) in 22:32.3, SC scored 52 points (4-8-11-13-16-18-33) to win. 

Footnotes:  Sometime during the meet I dropped a piece of camera equipment.  If you know of the whereabouts of a black metal lens shade, please contact me by e-mail: Ralphoto@att.net.