Bolles junior Jillian Candelino won the adidas XC Challenge on Saturday at the WakeMed Soccer Complex (home course for the Nike Cross Southeast Regional qualifier) in Cary, North Carolina with a state-leading and school record personal best 5K performance of 17:38. The school record is especially impressive considering the long line of past great runners produced by the Bolles program under the direction of current head coach Tony Ryan.
Her individual run helped lead the FL #3 ranked Bolles girls to a third-place team finish in a stacked field of top teams from all over the Southeast region states behind only Weddington (1st, 65 pts) from North Carolina and Marist (2nd, 98 pts) from Georgia. Bolles tallied 104 points in the 23 team field for the championship race while averaging 19:17 as a squad.
There was a significant time gap between Candelino who let it rip up front and the rest of her teammates who packed it up running in the 19 minute and 20-minute range with Elizabeth Csikai (18th, 19:21), Ella Mickler (19th, 19:23), Hadley Ropp (34th, 19:57), and Elizabeth McClure (40th, 20:05) rounding out their top five scoring. Bolles certainly has post-season aspirations beyond winning another 2A state title, so will need their top 5 runners each likely to improve another 30 seconds to a minute in their next visit to Cary in an even more competitive setting at NXN Southeast. Bolles finished 8th in the 2019 regional meet with an 18:54 team average as an example.
For Candelino in only her second race of the season, it was nearly 80 seconds faster than her 18:56 opening victory at the Bale-N-Trail Original hosted by Bartram Trail when she won in muddy conditions and decisively against Cecil Field Summer Classic winner Kate Drummond. While the fast time was not possible on that day, it foreshadowed that Candelino was fit and ready to pop a great time when presented with the right course opportunity.
Last year's 2A state runner-up Candelino is certainly in the driver's seat as the state title favorite in her classification, while intrigued to see her race head to head against some of the top elite girls in the other classifications later this season.