The flood gates opened soon as the 2021 cross country season got underway with the 22nd annual Wickham Park Jamboree at Wickham Park in Melbourne, Florida. Literally, as a downpour rain monsoon started and persisted as the boys' race started.
Despite the conditions, a field of over 200 competitors powered thru the mud slops and being drenched. Satellite senior Justin Wilson came in as the overwhelming race favorite and delivered winning in a time of 16:10. He had a college-aged race bandit who dropped out just near the finish to push him thru the two-loop course.
In contrast to how the weather and course conditions affected the times, Wilson ran 15:02 last fall at Wickham Park to end his season with a PR in the post-season. Certainly can expect Wilson to not see too many races over 16 minutes flat this season and stay consistently in the 15-minute range as a 2A state title individual favorite this fall.
The next competitor to trail in 26 seconds later after Wilson was Brooksville senior John Carbone, who ran only 16 seconds off his 5K PR from a season ago with a runner-up effort of 16:36. Carbone ran some sensational times during the track season including a 9:34 3200 and 4:18 1600, which point to him to drop down into the 15 minute range at some point this season.
Rounding out the top 3 was Martin County senior Anthony Matthew, who believe it or not actually ran a 5K PR in the adverse conditions with his 16:38 run for third place. Matthew only dipped under 17 minutes once last cross country season but made huge strides during the spring with a 9:48 best in the 3200. He still finished ahead of many runners on Saturday at Wickham Park who had much stronger resumés though.
The pre-season event also had some team implications seeing how some of top returning teams matched up. Viera is considered one of the top contenders for the 4A state title this fall, but sat out their top two runners in Michael Toppi and Robbie Naberhaus. Their #3 runner Cameron Raney led the squad in their absence finishing fourth in a time of 16:46.
After Rainey, the defending 2A state champions in Satellite impressively showed their reloaded depth after graduating their top 3 runners from last fall in Josh Stern, Gabe Montague, and Joe Wester. Satellite took 4 of the next 5 places after Viera's Rainey with Andrew Mahorner (5th, 16:51), Dayton Law (6th, 16:58), Aidan Mason (7th, 17:07), and Trevor Cross (9th, 17:32).
Competing as the Satellite Racing Team, they won the team competition with 20 points compared to Viera Racing Team's 46 points. After Rainey, Viera had four runners in the 17-minute range who expect to compete to backfill their normal scoring top 5 with Toppi and Naberhaus back in the event including Aedan Rendek (10th, 17:33), Jack Girard (12th, 17:37), and Joshua Ingalls (13th, 17:43).
We should see both squads racing at close to full strength and head to head again at the Cecil Field Summer Classic on Friday, August 27th in Jacksonville with a loaded field of highly ranked squads.
One of the biggest takeaways from Wickham Park on Saturday though that Satellite is not going to be experiencing a down year and is reloaded with a squad capable of withstanding the likes of Bolles, Berkeley Prep, and other challengers in 2A to go after another state crown in November.