flrunners.com top 25 boys cross country team rankings for the state of Florida regardless of classifications after the first 3 weeks of the season. These rankings are done subjectively by site editor Brandon Miles based on season results.
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1. Belen Jesuit (3A) - Belen Jesuit moves up a few spots from their initial pre-season ranking to take over the top spot from Viera. It was nothing that Viera did wrong to lose the top spot, but how impressive that the Belen Jesuit team has been in their first three meets of the season at the Kowboy Invite, Florida Horse Park Invite, and King of the Hill.
In their last meet at King of the Hill, their fifth runner almost beat the top runner Nicholas Ivonnet for the defending 4A state champs from Christopher Columbus. Adam Magoulas has led the way winning all 3 of their races, but sophomore Joshua Ruiz dropping a minute from last year and knocking on the door of sub 16 minutes has been the biggest difference-maker stepping into the #2 role to make up for the loss that the 2020 Belen Jesuit had with the special duo of Magoulas and graduated Javi Vento.
No team has more depth with sub 17-minute runners extending beyond their varsity 7 and 16:13 average for their top 5, so they are a team that can overcome any injuries, illnesses, or off performances. The defending 4-time state champions in 3A faired just as well if not better against similar teams at Florida Horse Park that Viera had defeated the prior weekend at Cecil Field. It will be settled though on Saturday at Spanish River when the top two teams race head to head.
2. Viera (4A) - Viera has lived up to their pre-season billing and have even better than expected with the likes of Cameron Raney stepping up with Michael Toppi and Robbie Naberhaus to make up arguably the state's best top 3 units in the state all capable of sub 16-minute performances. Toppi is on fire right now in his last two race wins and could challenge Rheinhart Harrison and Patrick Koon for top ranking in the state among individuals.
The area of concern in a pending matchup with Belen Jesuit, but clearly not a weakness in comparison to the rest of the state's top teams with their major win at Cecil Field as well as dominant following victories at Vero Beach Invite and Astronaut Invite is if their #4 and #5 runners can push deeper into the mid to low 16-minute range.
If Viera can put 3 runners ahead of Belen Jesuit's #2 then that would help negate points lost on their back end, but also have a freshman in that group who can make strides as the season goes on. Their 16:15 team average for their top 5's season-best is right behind Belen Jesuit's fastest average in the state at 16:13. Definitely still in the driver seat for the 4A state title.
3. Satellite (2A) - Last year's 2A state champions came into the season on paper as a slight underdog in 2A to Bolles who returned a deep lineup with sub 10 minute two milers and 16-minute range 5K runners. However, Satellite was more than willing to match up with Bolles twice early in the season at Cecil Field and Florida Horse Park beating them on both occasions.
The Satellite squad led by Justin Wilson was a runner-up in both major meets as they were 26 points behind Belen Jesuit at Florida Horse Park and 18 points behind Viera at Cecil Field to establish themselves as the clear-cut #3 in the state behind the two juggernauts about to clash. They have four runners right now at 16:22 or faster, but would need the gap for their fifth at a 17:04 season-best to drop to really push Belen Jesuit and Viera in a later season matchup.
4. Berkeley Prep (2A) - Berkeley Prep looked like a team coming into the season that could pick off potentially Satellite or Bolles to move up on the podium in 2A. At the Florida Horse Park Invite, Berkeley Prep picked off one of them in Bolles with a 50 point buffer ahead of them while finishing behind Satellite in third place overall.
Their squad opened up not at full strength without the Weber brothers at Babe Zaharias Twilight Challenge and still finished second behind a quality squad in HB Plant. At full strength with the Weber brothers at Florida Horse Park, Berkeley Prep finished ahead of HB Plant in third place behind only Belen Jesuit and Satellite. Ethan Lipham is a very stout front runner for them including a 15:43 PR victory at the Babe Zaharias Twilight Challenge.
5. HB Plant (4A) - HB Plant put everyone on notice that despite graduating 4 runners from their top 7 from a 2020 squad that finished 5th in 4A, the 2021 team is actually going to be better in winning the Babe Zaharias Twilight Challenge and then holding their own with a fourth-place finish in a deep field at the Florida Horse Park Invite.
The transfer of Albert Tawil-Brown (15:52 5K season-best) to the program after has made up for the graduation loss of their top runner Wynne Thomas from 2020, while top returnee Ryan Maney (15:53 season-best) joining Tawil-Brown under 16 minutes this season has given them a very formidable 1-2 punch to match up with the majority of the state's top tier teams. Plant's squad has a pack of boys right now between 16:53 to 17:38 for their remaining varsity lineup that will need to close up the minute gap that exists right now between their #2 and #3 runners to secure their spot on the state meet podium with the favorites Viera and pack of squads in striking distance.
6. Bolles (2A) - Bolles was one of our teams coming into the season that legitimately thought could be the very best team in the entire state regardless of classification. No team had a more successful track season when it came to sub 10-minute 3200 meter performers in their lineup and certainly, that same group of runners had some swift 5K time as well from last fall.
They certainly haven't been shy of facing the best this fall just thru the first 3 weeks including Cecil Field and Florida Park, but a third-place and fifth-place finish in the team standings in those races humbled them or realized work still need to be done before season's end to be considered Florida's very best squad. Bolles has simply lost out on each runner position battle narrowly when head to head with the other high-powered teams.
The potential is certainly there with a top 3 including William Brady, Colin Duhnoski, and Aidan Ryan ranging right now from 15:58 to 16:14 for their season bests able to all push into the 15-minute range. With two more runners under 17 minutes and a few more knocking on the door to give them the depth needed to hang with the teams ahead of them currently.
7. Sunlake (3A) - Sunlake looks to be the next best team in 3A behind the odds-on favorites Belen Jesuit right now. Sunlake had two strong victories at Jim Ryun FCA Invite and Lecanto Invite. They showcased their depth at Holloway Park in winning the Jim Ryun FCA Invite despite having one of their top runners in Alexa Pena dropping out mid-race, but had Pena back for Lecanto this past weekend to win by a 42 point margin ahead of two strong ranked squads in Newsome and Ocala Vanguard.
Neither of two meets were fast courses for Sunlake, so probably one team that can be underappreciated when looking at their current 16:50 season-best team average for their top 5 runners. Colby Robbins, the winner of the Jim Ryun FCA Invite, and Pena make up one of the better 1-2 duos in the state while finishing top 3 this past weekend at Lecanto Invite behind only Montverde Academy's Riley Novack. Cason Meyer is also a solid third runner for their lineup. The flrunners.com Invite in October will be their first opportunity to test themselves up against Belen Jesuit.
8. IMG Academy (Independent) - The IMG Academy boys have gone undefeated so far in winning their first two meets at the Lehigh Lightning Invite and Seffner Christian Invite this past weekend. Their squad was bolstered at Holloway Park this past weekend with the addition of Joshua Berger, a recent transfer and sub 16-minute 5K runner from Massachusetts, who was the first across the line in the Seffner Invite in 16:23.
Their winning team average was over 20 seconds faster than Sunlake's on the same course two weeks earlier at Jim Ryun Invite. They will get an opportunity to run much faster times this weekend at the North Port Invitational with #4 ranked Berkeley Prep and #5 HB Plant to measure up to as their toughest competition to date.
9. Creekside (4A) - Creekside right now has the 5th fastest team average in the state of Florida at 16:43 as their fourth-place showing in the stacked field at Cecil Field produced virtually all of their season-best times including 4 runners under 17 minutes in Jack Dravo, Luke Kaelin, Mac Williams, and Hudson Finocchio.
Creekside also came out on top this past weekend on a muddier and slower course at Bale-N-Trail in a competitively close 3 way battle with Nease and Bartram Trail with only 6 points separating them.
10. Nease (4A) - The Nease boys impressed in holding their own racing without their top runner and state's top-ranked individual in Rheinhardt Harrison at Cecil Field, but have shown their capability since with Harrison racing in their last two meets including a near team victory and only one point loss to Creekside at Bartram Trail.
Harrison has not let it really rip with a fast time at 16 minutes flat season-best, while teammate Sam Myers has stepped up in the huge #2 role left by graduated Anderson Ball with a season-best of 16:20. Nease then has a trio of runners hovering just over 17 minutes currently ready to make that push into 16-minute performance range.
Only 7 seconds separates the season-best times from their #1 runner Logan Sallas at 16:45 to #5 runner Branden McDonald at 16:53. Bartram Trail is one of only a handful of teams right now in Florida with 5 runners having season-best times under 17 minutes, but will likely need someone emerge as the front runner or the pack move up as a whole to get the edge on teams ahead of them including Creekside and Nease who narrowly edged them out on their home course at Bale-N-Trail this past weekend.
12. Christopher Columbus (4A) - The reigning 4A state champions took some heavy losses due to graduation and while a repeat title might seem far-fetched, Christopher Columbus still appears to be one of the best teams in South Florida and could possibly slip on the state meet podium by season end.
Columbus defeated the majority of the top teams in the Fort Myers and Naples area two Saturdays ago in winning the DDD Sommer Invite including 54 points ahead of #16 ranked Naples, while finished runner-up to #1 ranked Belen Jesuit at King of the Hill this past Friday and narrowly avoided Jesuit putting 5 runners ahead of their first finisher. Pack running seems to be the strength and focus of this team with only 37 seconds separating their top 5 runners from 16:42 to 17:19 season bests at the moment.
13. Newsome (4A) - With their girls squad as a state title contender in 4A, the Newsome boys are also very competitive to make the program as a whole one of the more complete right now in Florida. Newsome boys have started their season with a first-place showing at the East Hillsborough Invite and a runner-up finish to #7 Sunlake at the Lecanto Invite.
Jason Swartzlander leads their squad after breaking 16 minutes for the first time at East Hillsborough and an 8th place finish against a tougher field at Lecanto. Newsome finished 11 points ahead of an Ocala Vanguard squad in third place at Lecanto Invite, who were coming off a solid 7th place showing in a deep field of ranked squads at Florida Horse Park as a cross-reference to Newsome's standing among them.
14. Ocala Vanguard (3A) - Ocala Vanguard was not really on our radar coming into the season, but after matching up well with ranked teams at Florida Horse Park (7th) and Lecanto Invite (3rd) has elevated them from being unranked in the preseason to the #14 spot now.
Vanguard has two solid runners with sub 16:30 season bests in Clayton Knight and Tristan Pank with two more runners ready to join them under 17 minutes. Their fifth runner is just over 18 minutes right now and will need to improve to hold off a strong group of 3A schools to the south of them.
15. Circle Christian School (1A) - The top-ranked team currently in the 1A classification with two head-to-head victories against the defending state champions Oak Hall at both Cecil Field and Florida Horse Park. Circle Christian has also matched up well against schools from large classifications in both major races grabbing a fifth-place finish at Cecil Field and eighth-place showing at Florida Horse Park.
Jack DeJesus (16:04), Will Neeld (16:44), and Michael Kirwan (16:52) have all broken 17 minutes already this season with a remaining top 7 all in the 17 minute range looking to join them at some point this season. Circle Christian dominated the field at St. Cloud Invite this past Saturday winning by a large margin of 66 points.
16. Naples (3A) - Naples really rolled out fast times this weekend in their team win at Fort Myers Invite with virtually all their season bests coming in the night meet on the fast flat course. With four boys under 17 and 16:46 top 5 average, Naples was able to win the team competition over host school Fort Myers by six points.
The week prior on a much slower course in Estero for the DDD Sommer Invite, Naples was a distant second place to 2020 state champions in 4A in Christopher Columbus, but finished ahead of the rest of the local schools in attendance.
17. Chiles (3A) - Chiles has not traveled too far this season and stayed fairly local with their races in the Tallahassee area. In one of those races on the state meet course at Apalachee Regional Park for the Big Bend Invite, Chiles defeated another top program in the area in the Patrick Koon and Jake Rogers led Leon squad. Ben Kirbo and Wyatt Townsend were able to split up Koon and Rogers in the race finishing second and third between them, while their team's depth beat them in spots #3-7 as well.
Chiles has a team average right now of 17:07, which would not be surprised if they can drop that average down 30 seconds faster with greater competition in a deeper field on a faster course this season.
18. Niceville (4A) - The best team on the Florida Panhandle is Niceville coming off a runner-up finish this past weekend at the Gulf Coast Stampede behind an out of state squad and made the long trip to Cecil Field to start the season with a very respectable 7th place finish in the loaded elite field.
Only 44 seconds separates the season-best times of their top 5 runners from 16:40 to 17:24. William Jetton
19. Fort Myers (3A) - Fort Myers started the season off strong with a win at the Dunbar Tiger Jamboree led by race winner Colsen Palmer in a sub 16 effort back in August. Between their fast times at Dunbar and their home invitational this past Saturday, Fort Myers has the 10th fastest team in the state right now on paper with a 16:46 team average.
Fort Myers will get an opportunity at North Port to race and match up against some higher ranked and next tier teams that they have not faced yet till this point beyond Naples and Palmetto Ridge.
20. Leon (3A) - Leon has a two-minute gap between their #1 and #3 runners that is partially due to their top runner being so good and fast in sophomore Patrick Koon (15:15), while honestly realizing they need their #3 and #5 runners to improve and set up in the last half of the cross country season as well. They will battle with Chiles this fall for who will be the top team in the Tallahassee area this fall after being runners-up to them in the last encounter at the Big Bend Invite.
Leon also turned in a respectable 8th place finish when they traveled east for Cecil Field last month in their opener against several top-ranked schools in 3A and 4A.
21. Buchholz (4A) - Both boys and girls teams from Buchholz have really stepped up and surpassed preseason expectations already. Emerson Miller leads the way for the Buchholz boys with a 15:50 season-best and sub 17 minute average for the rest of a lineup that finished 9th at Cecil Field and 4th this past weekend at Bale-N-Trail behind only ranked squads ahead of them here.
22. Indian Rocks Christian (1A) - Coming off a strong runner-up showing at Seffner Christian Invite behind only IMG Academy, Indian Rocks Christian certainly projects to be a squad right in the mix for the 1A state title this fall with the likes of other ranked squads Circle Christian and Oak Hall School. Top runner Mateo Luna has run sub 16 minutes in the past and ran 16:36 at Holloway Park on a muddy course, while the rest of their top 5 has run between 17:05 to 17:36 this season.
23. Oak Hall School (1A) - Last year's 1A state runners-up will be in contention for a podium spot again, but have taken two early-season losses to the current front runner in the classification in Circle Christian. Oak Hall has a sub 16-minute front runner in outdoor 3200 state champ Caden Montini and remaining top 5 scorers that average 17:10 as a group.
24. Palmetto Ridge (4A) - Led by breakout star Bernardo Barnhart, who just won the Fort Myers Invite in a 15:47 course record, Palmetto Ridge is becoming a very competitive squad in their move up from 3A to 4A. If they could find a fifth runner to step up to complement their four runners under 17 minutes this season then that would elevate them into another sphere of teams in 4A. Palmetto Ridge was a runner-up in their season opener at Dunbar Tiger Jamboree behind Fort Myers and finished third at the Fort Myers Invite behind Naples and Fort Myers.
25. Spanish River (4A) - Spanish River will play host to the state's top two ranked teams this weekend in Belen Jesuit and Viera, while also get an opportunity to race themselves deeper into the top 25. Spanish River finished 12th at Cecil Field to start their season and are coming off a win at The King's Academy Invite this past Saturday against a solid squad from Boca Raton.