After 16 districts narrowed down the competition pool for regional week, the final 16 teams have been decided for the FHSAA 1A Cross Country State Championship competition pool.
With the competition pool decided, here is what went down last week across the state for each region in class 1A ahead of the state meet on Friday.
1A Region 1 featured a great region battle in the boys race between two fellow juniors: Matthew Stratton and Jackson Yarbrough. Stratton pulled away from Yarbrough to capture his first regional title with his third sub-16 minute performance this season of 15:53. Yarbrough and his teammate Leo Rutledge were the next finishers representing Maclay School going 16:07 and 16:36.
Yarbrough and Rutledge led the Maclay School boys to a regional team title with 36 points. Pensacola Christian Academy put up a strong fight for the win -- running as a strong pack with a 1:09 1-5 split to finish second with 44 points. St. Johns Country Day School, St. Joseph Academy, Eugene Hall, Logan Dunaway, and Donald Dempsey were among the other teams and individuals to qualify for the upcoming state meet.
The girls race featured a fast sub 19-minute performance from University Christian School junior Laci Watford. Watford won the field by over a minute with her 18:39 run on the New World Golf Course. Baker Senior eighth grader Kaylin Olivarez and Gracie Koeppel of Maclay were the next two finishers with their 19:39 and 19:48 runs.
Koeppel led her Maclay school girls to win the region team title, and just like the boys race, Pensacola Christian Academy put up a strong showing with their talented underclassmen leading the way for second. Community Christian School, Providence School, Emily Wheldon, and Sydney Athearn were among the rest of teams and individuals from the girls race to qualify for the state meet.
Oak Hall senior and Yale commit Austin Montini continued his dominate senior year with another regional title added to his running career winning the 1A Region 2 title with a time of 16:18. Mount Dora Christian Academy duo Riley Novack and Mitchell Curtis continued their teamwork efforts from District week into Region week with their 16:28 and 16:40 back-to-back second and third place finishes.
Montini led the Oak Hall boys to a Region team title with 52 points and a 17:05 team average over Circle Christian's 78 1:08 1-5 split. Oak Hall boys are one of the favorites to win the 1A team state title this year and their performance this weekend at region, is indicative that they are in the right spot to peak this week. Mount Dora Christian Academy, St. Francis Catholic HS, Mehari Van der Riet, Joshua McKay, Seth Augustynowski, and Jackson Overholt are among the teams and individuals that join Circle Christian and Oak Hall at the state championship next week.
The girls race was a dress rehearsal for the upcoming state meet with the top two teams: Oak Hall School and Circle Christian going face to face before the big dance. Sinkenesh Parker won the individual title with her consistent 18:35 performance. Oak Hall put their top three in front of Circle Christian's second with Lauren Jones, Harrison Grooms, and Sydney Miller going 19:06, 19:59, and 20:04. Ultimately, the Oak Hall girls won the region meet with 25 points, a 1:34 1-5 split, and a 20:01 team average. Circle Christian took runner-up with 39 points 2:14 1-5 split, and a 20:11 team average. One takeaway from this region meet is that the state meet will be very close between these two teams as Oak Hall looks to defend their team title. Lakeland Christian School, International Community School, Claire Reburn, Morgan Harvill, and Mary Peck, are among the teams and individuals from this region to continue on another week at the 1A state championships.
Photo by Crusader Athletics @crusadersSCA on Twitter
The Seffner Christian boys are ready to defend their team state title. Seffner senior Dalin Mitchell led his boys to victory this past week with his individual winning performance of 16:25 -- just over five seconds ahead of Indian Rocks Christian junior Mateo Luna's 16:31.
Mitchell, along with his teammates were able to pull of a dominating team finish with 23 points, 1:04 1-5 split, and a 17:01 average over Indian Rocks Christian's 77 points, 2:05 1-5 split, and 17:49 team average. Looking ahead to the state meet, Seffner will put up a strong fight against Oak Hall to bring home a consecutive team title. Southwest Florida Christian Academy HS, Cambridge Christian School, Tristan McWilliam, Michael Thomas, Luke Scott, and Charles Meagher were among the remaining teams and individuals to qualify for the state championship this week.
The girls race featured a dominating performance from Cambridge Christian School seventh grader Eliana Black. After taking her district meet easy, but winning the FLYRA Middle School State Championship title with a new Holloway Park 3k course record of 10:31, Black is proving that she will be the one to beat this year for the 1A individual title. Canterbury senior and UF commit Jessica Edwards along with Ava Povich of Evangelical Christian were the next two finishers with their 19:49 and 19:55 runs.
The Cambridge Christian ladies pulled off a strong win, even without their No. 2 Caroline Lehman, ending the meet with 41 points and a 20:47 team average. Out of Door Academy, Bell Creek Academy, Canterbury School, Katie Beam, Elizabeth Poe, and Ella Flynn will also join Ava Povich and the Cambridge ladies this upcoming week at the state meet.
After capturing a district title last week, Johnathan Pitchford added another regional title to his running resume with a 16:40 run -- over one minute ahead of the rest of the field. George Stark of Palmer Trinity finished second with a time of 17:30 and Joshua Shields of South Florida HEAT finishing third just seven seconds behind.
Shields, along with his teammate Hunter Morgan, led the South Florida HEAT team to a 40 point, 18:23 team average championship win ahead of Marathon's 75 points. Palmer Trinity, The Pine School, Payton Caja, Jason Flaming, Benjamin Pasternac, and Joey Ageeb were among the remaining teams and individuals to qualify themselves for the state championship this week.
The girls race featured a regional individual win from St. John Paul II senior Amber Lopez with her 21:37 performance. South Florida HEAT packed up to put their entire top five in the top eight with freshman Alyssa Benson leading the way with a 21:46 runner-up finish. South Florida HEAT dominated the field with 20 points with St. Edwards School coming in second with 83 points. Marathon, Benjamin School, Maddison Stegall, and Kaylee Zamora are among the teams and individuals to continue on another week to the state final this weekend.