Several girls had breakthrough performances and splashing season debuts at Cecil Field to move them into our top 25 rankings list including race winner Kate Drummond going from unranked to #8 with her near course record 18:39 victory. Meanwhile, just squeaking into the top 25 were Spanish River senior Zoe Pustilnik had a 40 second PR of 19:02 in third place, and right with her at the line was Lucrezia Gowdy from Episcopal School making an instant impact in her first high school XC race as a ninth-grader.
An updated flrunners.com top 25 girls individual cross country rankings for the entire state of Florida after the first official week of meets in the 2021 season.
1. Caroline Wells (Winter Springs) - Wells Has not raced yet and is entered at Winter Springs Invite this Saturday, but might be held out another week as aiming for a post-season peak with Foot Locker Nationals.
2. Caroline Lehman (Cambridge Christian) - Lehman Has not raced yet after being held out of the team opener at Babe Zaharias. Opening no later than North Port Invite on September 18th.
3. Tatum David (IMG Academy) - David has not raced yet after being held out of the team opener at Lehigh Lighting Invite. Might not race until later in the season as coming back from an outdoor season injury. Entered with the team at flrunners.com Invite on October 2nd.
4. Mary Ellen Eudaly (Cambridge Christian) - Eudaly has not raced yet after being held out of the team opener at Babe Zaharias. Opening no later than North Port Invite on September 18th.
5. Eliana Black (Cambridge Christian) - The 8th grader opened with a runaway 18:36 victory at Babe Zaharias Twilight Challenge on Friday with her two higher-ranked teammates Lehman and Eudaly sitting out. She might have closed the gap between them in the summer to make their top 3 pecking order more unpredictable this fall.
6. Carly McNatt (IMG Academy) - McNatt has not raced yet after being held out of the team opener at Lehigh Lightning Invite. Entered with the team at flrunners.com Invite on October 2nd.
7. Haley Thornton (Palm Harbor University) - While her time was not fast in her win at Holloway Park at the Jim Ryun Invite in 19:55, nobody's time was fast in the race under hot and humid conditions. She is fit as learned in running a 17:24 road race 5K over the summer and had a huge lead on the field by the mile mark at Jim Ryun.
8. Kate Drummond (Buchholz) - One of the biggest breakthrough performances of the weekend was Buchholz junior Drummond as she went from just missing the cut in our preseason top 25 to jumping all the way up to the #8 spot following a near course record 18:39 victory at the meet of the weekend in the Cecil Field Summer Classic. Over a 70 second improvement from the same meet one year ago.
9. Layla Haynes (IMG Academy) - A mysterious new name appeared in the IMG lineup on Saturday at Lehigh Lightning Invite as the newcomer from Barbados in Haynes was able to defeat the current 5K state leader Ava Povich with a 19:16 debut. Haynes is more of a track star including running times of 4:42 in the 1500 and 2:14, but is showing her range and embrace of cross country. She might be leading the IMG early on this season until David and McNatt debut.
10. Ava Povich (Evangelical Christian) - Two strong performances in back-to-back weekends for Povich including the current state leading 5K time of the season in her scorching 18:28 PR victory at the Dunbar Tiger Jamboree two weekends ago. She followed that up in a close runner-up finish and battle to the end at Lehigh Lightning Invite against a talented Haynes in 19:21. She certainly appears to be the early state title favorite in 1A.
11. Amber Schulz (Timber Creek) - After easier herself back into racing after her long layoff during track season while pacing a teammate at Mike Gibson Summertime Run, the defending 4A state champ Schulz took the training wheels off and let it rip at Cecil Field going under 19 minutes with a runner-up 18:55 finish. Honestly more fit and ahead of schedule than expected, so in a good spot to come on strong at the end to try and repeat.
12. Penelope Sosa (Miami Coral Park) - Sosa Has not raced yet, but will open up in the middle of this week at the FNU Invitational racing against another top 25 ranked runner in Ashley Fitzgerald.
13. Brooke Reif (Wharton) - Reif Has not raced yet, but will open on Saturday at the Florida Horse Park Invite racing against top 25 ranked runners Rivera, Cardona, Marston, and Melzer opening as well.
14. Alanie Rivera (Harmony) - Rivera has not raced yet, but will open on Saturday at the Florida Horse Park Invite racing against Reif, Cardona, Marston, and Melzer opening as well.
15. Jillian Candelino (Bolles) - Has not raced yet. Held out of the team opener at Cecil Field along with teammate Ella Mickler. Opening no later than the adidas XC Challenge in North Carolina on September 18th for a NXN Southeast course preview.
16. Lily Henne (Lake Minneola) - Henne has not raced yet. Discovered this week has transferred to Lake Minneola from Montverde Academy. Entered to open up at Lecanto Invite on September 11th.
17. Jais Ward (IMG Academy) - Ward has not raced yet after being held out of the team opener at Lehigh Lightning. Definitely racing by flrunners.com Invite on October 2nd. Not sure of team's racing status for rest of September.
18. Annabella Cardona (G. Holmes Braddock) - Has not raced yet. Will open on Saturday at Florida Horse Park Invite racing against top 25 ranked runners Reif, Rivera, Marston, and Melzer opening as well.
19. Grace Marston (Lakewood Ranch) - Marston has not raced yet, but will open on Saturday at Florida Horse Park Invite racing against top 25 ranked runners Reif, Rivera, Cardona, and Melzer opening as well.
20. Ashley Fitzgerald (American Heritage) - Fitzgerald has not raced yet, but will open on Thursday at the FNU Invitational racing against another top 25 ranked runner in Penelope Sosa.
21. Megan Wells (Newsome) - Wells has not raced yet after being held out of team opener at Babe Zaharias. Next major race on the team schedule is Lecanto Invite on September 11th.
22. Aurora Melzer (Lakewood Ranch) - Melzer Has not raced yet, but will open on Saturday at the Florida Horse Park Invite racing against top 25 ranked runners Reif, Rivera, Cardona, and Marston opening as well.
23. Emma Hencock (St. Brendan) - Hencock kicked off her season with a solid 19:18 victory at the Park Vista Cobra Country Invite in Boca Raton winning by a margin of 10 seconds. She will be at DD Sommer Estero Invite on Saturday with ranked Povich as well as Katie Beam and Amy Meng.
24. Zoe Pustilnik (Spanish River) - The senior from Spanish River dropped 40 seconds off her 5K PR to grab third-place finish at Cecil Field with a swift 19:02 run to make a big jump even from her 11:20 3200 PR to end the 2021 outdoor season to crack into the top 25.
25. Lucrezia Gowdy (Episcopal School of Jacksonville) - Last year's FLYRA middle school state cross country runner-up made a splashing debut into high school cross country finishing 4th in the deep elite girls' field at Cecil Field with a 19:02 performance starting her freshman year at Episcopal School.
Just missed the cut: Ella Mickler (Bolles), Kayla McCarthy (Lake Brantley), Lauren Jones (Oak Hall), Lily Moore (Leon), Reilly Barber (St. Augustine), Madeleine Gear (Cambridge Christian), Megan Dolan (Boone), Kennedy Downey (Osceola)