Check out the list of entries from the state of Florida for the Garmin RunningLane Cross Country Championships to be held this Saturday, December 4th in Huntsville, Alabama.
This meet in only its second year of existence has quickly risen as one of the nation's most prominent elite post-season events as shown by how tough it was to qualify for the gold championship race this weekend with many of the top teams and individuals in the country coming to the event.
From Florida, qualifying for the Gold division includes the 1A state champion Cambridge Christian girls led by Caroline Lehman and Mary Ellen Eudaly. Meanwhile, qualifying individually for the gold division boys race from Florida includes a trio in Eastbay Nationals qualifier Michael Toppi of Viera along with Colby Robbins of Sunlake and Zack Poekert from Cypress Creek (Wesley Chapel).
Both Lehman and Eudaly are coming off the individual disappointment in the near ecstatic joy of just missing out on qualifying for the Eastbay Nationals last weekend finishing 11th (17:26) for Lehman and 12th (17:38) for Eudaly respectively despite running cross country 5K personal best times at the South Regional in Charlotte. They have a chance at some redemption and consolation joining with the rest of their state champion and Florida's #1 ranked Cambridge Christian squad to show what they can collectively do in the team competition among the nation's top-ranked as one of the best teams in the entire Southeast.
While Lehman and Eudaly traveled to North Carolina last week, two of their teammates in #3 runner Eliana Black and #4 runner Madeleine Gear stayed home and actually tore it up locally in Thanksgiving day turkey trot road 5K races with Black winning her race in a PR time of 17:57 in Wesley Chapel, while Gear dropped a swift new PR as well at 18:22 in a road race in Fort Myers. So their dominant and elite top 5 is all coming off fast times and hitting on all cylinders in the post-season one week ago.
The key and the make or break for how the Cambridge Christian girls will fare against other stacked teams nationally at RunningLane will be where their #5 finisher comes in buried in the deep field of runners for the championship gold girls race. It will come down either to Micah Friedman with the ninth-grader breaking 20 minutes for the first time at the state meet or junior Madelyn Spadaro with a 20:04 5K best to step up for them in the #5 spot and get well into the 19 minute range on Saturday to keep the team score down low for Cambridge Christian.
Cambridge Christian currently has a season-best team average of 18:23 for their top 5 runners. With Lehman, Eudaly, and Black all capable of going sub 18 minutes and Gear venturing in the low 18's, could Cambridge Christian become the first cross country team ever in Florida to have a team average under 18 minutes on Saturday? The course, competition, and weather conditions are ripe on Saturday in Huntsville for them to have a shot.
Headlining the storyline for the Florida boys will be Viera senior Michael Toppi, who will get a great opportunity to measure up against the nation's best and preview of what to expect when the Florida State commit travels to San Diego next week for the Eastbay Nationals as one of the 40 national qualifiers.
His 14:55 season-best 5K time from the New World Fall Spectacular actually ranks him 47th fastest among all entries for the Garmin RunningLane XC Championships in the gold race. The case could be made that he's racing a tougher field on Saturday in Alabama than he will face the following weekend in San Diego. Toppi will be aiming to be among the top 20 finishers in the gold race, which would earn him "All-American" status.
The only downside is while he made the cut individually for the gold race, that his Viera squad did not make the cut and he will be detached from the rest of his varsity lineup teammates.
The silver and bronze race division is where the bulk of Florida runners will be competing in still impressively deep and competitive fields. Nearly a dozen sub 16 minute 5K runners from Florida will be racing in the silver boys' race including the likes of Ethan Lipham from Berkeley Prep, Brayden Seymour from Hagerty, Ryan Maney from HB Plant, and Joshua Bergers from IMG Academy. All have season-best 5K times around 15:30.
Maney had a 3200 PR race two weeks ago on the track at 9:22 in a narrow win over Lipham, while Bergers (50th, 15:52) finished just ahead of Seymour (55th, 15:55) and Lipham (61st, 15:59) at the Eastbay South Regional last weekend.
Similarly, the silver girls' race has a wealth of talent and depth including nearly 10 Florida runners who own sub 19-minute 5K credentials led by IMG Academy's Layla Haynes with her 17:40 5K best, 4A state cross country champion Penelope Sosa of Miami Coral Park and front runner for this fall's 4A state champion Buchholz squad in junior Kate Drummond as top runners from our state to watch in the race.
Haynes finished in 38th place with a time of 18:22 last week at the Eastbay South Regional after a six-week break in racing since IMG Academy cannot compete in the FHSAA championship season, but can compete in the FHSAA regular-season meets.
Sosa should have a lot still left in the tank after missing the first month of the season due to illness and came on strong at the state meet with her 18:12 5K best victory in Tallahassee. Drummond could be next year's 4A state champion and dropping a new PR in the low 18-minute range in Huntsville would bolster her 2022 XC pre-season favorite status.
Pine Crest sophomore Brooke Hooper has put together some of her best races as of late including a fourth-place 18:44 PR finish in the FHSAA 2A girls state race and has the opportunity to lower that time at RunningLane. Another runner from South Florida in Avery Fronrath from the King's Academy was Florida's top finisher this past Saturday in the junior/senior girls race at the Eastbay South Regional with a sub 19 effort and will be competing out-of-state this weekend in Alabama.
The Tutton sisters in 10th grader RaeAnne and 8th grader Jaimee from Pensacola Christian with their sub 19 PR's will have a shorter trek than others to Huntsville coming up from the Florida Panhandle are also selected to run in the silver division with their full squad.
Being the PR-friendly course that is John Hunt Running Park in Huntsville, one could see many of these runners lowering their current season-best times significantly as well as more Florida runners joining them destroying time barriers to conclude their 2021 cross country season.
A full list of current Florida entries is found below. The first race starts at 7:30 AM and the last race starts at 11:30 AM on Saturday for the Central Time Zone (one hour ahead behind Florida in the Eastern Time Zone).
Florida Boys Entries
|First Name||Last Name||State||Team Name||5k||Race|
|Joshua||Bergers||FL||IMG Elite - individual||0:15:31||Silver|
|Vince||Mwangi||FL||IMG Elite - individual||0:15:56||Silver|
|Jonathan||Tutton||FL||Pensacola XC Athletes||0:16:02||Bronze|
|Gabriel||Garcia||FL||Miami Vice Project||0:16:07||Bronze|
|Devin||Makousky||FL||Rockledge XC Club||0:16:17||Bronze|
|Drew||Birx||FL||Pensacola XC Athletes||0:16:18||Bronze|
|Riccardo||Testini||FL||Pinnacle Racing Team||0:16:38||Bronze|
|Cristian||Calderon||FL||Rockledge XC Club||0:16:38||Bronze|
|Brendan||Roper||FL||Pinnacle Racing Team||0:16:41||Bronze|
|Josiah||Price||FL||Rockledge XC Club||0:16:49||Blue|
|Michael||Gongora||FL||Miami Vice Project||0:17:04||Bronze|
|Erick||Lund||FL||Pensacola XC Athletes||0:17:09||Bronze|
|Micah||Sleeth||FL||Pensacola XC Athletes||0:17:09||Bronze|
|Andres||Canas||FL||Miami Vice Project||0:17:10||Bronze|
|Aidan||Mendoza||FL||Miami Vice Project||0:17:23||Bronze|
|Micah||Hodge||FL||Pensacola XC Athletes||0:17:24||Bronze|
|Andrew||Sheppard||FL||Pensacola XC Athletes||0:17:27||Bronze|
|Ryan||Braswell||FL||Rockledge XC Club||0:17:42||Blue|
|Giovanni||Gotay||FL||Miami Vice Project||0:18:06||Bronze|
|Matias||White||FL||Miami Vice Project||0:18:38||Bronze|
|Trenton||Brayboy||FL||Rockledge XC Club||0:18:53||Blue|
|Antonio||Gomez||FL||Miami Vice Project||0:18:55||Bronze|
|Daniel||Penley||FL||Pensacola XC Athletes||0:19:00||Bronze|
Florida Girls Entries
|First Name||Last Name||State||Race Group||Time||Race|
|Caroline||Lehman||FL||Project Dark Horse||0:16:53||Gold|
|Mary Ellen||Eudaly||FL||Project Dark Horse||0:17:35||Gold|
|Eliana||Black||FL||Project Dark Horse||0:17:57||Gold|
|Madeleine||Gear||FL||Project Dark Horse||0:18:22||Gold|
|Jaimee||Tutton||FL||Pensacola XC Athletes||0:18:53||Silver|
|RaeAnne||Tutton||FL||Pensacola XC Athletes||0:18:53||Silver|
|Annabella||Cardona||FL||Miami Vice Project||0:19:07||Silver|
|Reagan||Smith||FL||Pensacola XC Athletes||0:19:22||Silver|
|Micah||Friedman||FL||Project Dark Horse||0:19:59||Gold|
|Madelyn||Spadaro||FL||Project Dark Horse||0:20:04||Gold|
|jasmine||Trotz||FL||Miami Vice Project||0:20:06||Silver|
|Kayla||Feeney||FL||Miami Vice Project||0:20:17||Silver|
|Sofia||Peterlevitz||FL||Pensacola XC Athletes||0:20:32||Silver|
|Marlie||Gonzalez||FL||Miami Vice Project||0:20:34||Silver|
|Caitlyn||Penley||FL||Pensacola XC Athletes||0:20:47||Silver|
|jada||garcia||FL||Miami Vice Project||0:20:54||Silver|
|Lina||Adjouadi||FL||Miami Vice Project||0:21:09||Silver|
|Jayln||Johnson||FL||Pensacola XC Athletes||0:21:44||Silver|
|Sophia||Nieto||FL||Miami Vice Project||0:23:10||Silver|
Saturday, December 4th
All times are CENTRAL TIME ZONE.
7:30 - Community Race
8:00 - Blue Boys Race
8:30 - Bronze Girls Race
9:00 - Bronze Boys Race
9:30 - Silver Girls Race
10:00 - Silver Boys Race
10:45 - Gold Girls Race
11:30 - Boys Gold Race
Awards will take place at 12:15 PM.