The Cambridge Christian girls finally got the services of Mary Ellen Eudaly and Caroline Lehman who had a planned late start to their senior seasons of cross country. Eighth-grader Eliana Black and tenth-grader Madeleine Gear had been holding down the fort for the team leading them to team wins earlier at Babe Zaharias Twilight Challenge and Lecanto Invitational.
With the team at full force, it was an incredible sight to see with the Cambridge girls taking the top 3 places individually ahead of some of the state's top-ranked runners including the likes of Layla Haynes (4th, 18:27) of IMG Academy, Ava Povich (6th, 18:44) of Evangelical Christian, Brooke Reif (5th, 18:$2) of Wharton, and Haley Thornton (7th, 18:46) of Palm Harbor University.
We are talking about potential state champion and borderline national class type runners who the Cambridge Christian girls with Eudaly in first place at 17:51, Lehman in second place at 18:04, and Black in third place in 18:16 all finished ahead of them and by a margin too. It was actually Eudaly's first cross country race for Cambridge Christian after transferring there before the 2021 track season from HB Plant and ultimately running 4:44 for 1600 meters and 10:17 for 3200 meters this past spring.
Even Cambridge's fourth runner in the freshman Gear grabbing ninth place (18:52) and going sub 19 minutes as well on the rain-soaked and muddy North Port course was right there with that group of Florida's elite girls. Cambridge Christian essentially has four runners who could be the #1 runners on most team's varsity squads.
Cambridge Christian easily won the team competition after taking 4 of the top 9 places with 44 points as 3A state title contenders Osceola of Seminole tallied 92 points. Meanwhile, IMG Academy still short-handed without their top 3 returnees in Tatum David, Carly McNatt, and Jais Ward finished third with 121 points. Cambridge has aspirations of qualifying for Nike Cross Nationals this season and certainly are in a good position to do so as long as keep improving their fifth runner's times as their fifth scorer came in 33rd place at 20:13 in Madelyn Spadaro.
Ethan Lipham and the Berkeley Prep boys continue to only get stronger and faster each week as real threats in the 2A classification. At the North Port Invitational, Lipham motored away from the field in the elite boys race with a personal best time of 15:29. He finished well ahead of the next closest competitor in recent IMG Academy transfer from Massachusetts in Joshua Bergers, who dropped his time from his win last week at Holloway Park in the Seffner Christian Invite, with a 15:51 runner-up effort.
As a team, Berkeley Prep (1st, 86 pts) was also 44 points better than IMG Academy (2nd, 130 pts) in the team standings averaging 16:26 for their top 5 on a slower North Port course than usual due to recent heavy rainfalls.
After Lipham, Kirin Karver joined his teammate under 16 minutes with a stellar third-place finish of 15:51 for his best race of the 2021 season. Last year's FLYRA Middle School state champion Liam Jordan was the team's third finisher with a top 15 effort in his time of 16:31 for 13th place. The Weber brothers, Wolfgang (23rd, 16:50) and Storm (46th, 17:18), once again rounded out the Berkeley Prep's scoring five lineup.
More to come from North Port including more photos and race videos.