Florida All-Class Preseason Top 20 Girls XC Team Rankings

Below are the top 20 subjectively ranked girls cross country teams in the state of Florida heading into the 2022 cross country season.

1. Bolles (2A) - The two-time defending 2A state champions in the Bolles girls lost only one runner to graduation and return the deepest lineup in the state with not only varsity runners, but middle school runners who have been developing over recent years. The only team in the state with a top 5 of returnees who averages under 19 minutes for 5K at 18:54 led by one of the state's top returning individuals in 2021 state cross country champion Jillian Candelino (17:36). Many teams will struggle to have 5 girls break 20 minutes in the 5K, but Bolles might have more runners beyond their top 7 under 20.  Elizabeth McClure really stepped up as a ninth grader last year into the #2 runner role behind Candelino. Let's see if McClure can pull the rest of the pack with her under 19 minutes this season and close up the time gap between the squad to Candelino. Bolles had a half dozen girls break 12 minutes in the 3200 meter run this past track season who return. 

2. Buchholz (4A) - The defending 4A state champions Buchholz return their top 6 runners from last year's squad, so will be primed to repeat and be one of the more dominant teams in the state this fall. Their top four, in particular, is very strong with Kate Drummond (18:35 5K), Lucy Voss (19:00), Eleanor Whisler (19:15), and Emma White (19:23). If the back end of their top 5 can improve from a year ago and get more security beyond their top 5, Buchholz could legitimately challenge to be the best team overall in the state of Florida with their firepower up front. 

3. Ponte Vedra (3A) - Another defending state champion team returning the vast majority of their lineup is last year's 3A winners from Ponte Vedra with only one runner graduating and six runners back who broke 20 minutes for 5K last fall. They will have last year's runner-up in Osceola breathing down their necks to push them in the 3A classification but have a strong group of juniors and sophomores ready to make another jump in performances. Sophia Buskhell ran 18:16 as one of the state's fastest ninth graders last season, while Linday White nearly broke 5 minutes for 1600 meters this past spring as a sophomore as two of their top individuals to watch. Ponte Vedra had 5 returnees break 12 minutes in the 3200 this spring. 

4. Osceola (3A) - Osceola was 16 points off Ponte Vedra as the second podium team in last year's 3A state race and certainly have the talent to make up that manageable gap with a loaded group of girls back who also rolled out fast times on the track this past spring. Osceola only lost one senior to graduation from their 2021 varsity lineup with 4 returnees in the 19-minute range with Abigail Clements, Kennedy Downey, Avery Latto, and Heloise Pinto while having two others in the mid-20-minute range in Taylor Ladd and Julia Tripp. On the track, Osceola is one of three teams in Florida who had 5 girls break 12 minutes in the 3200 return.

5. Cambridge Christian (1A) - The defending 1A state champions and the fastest team overall in the state of Florida last year in setting a state record with their 18:06 season-best team average for their top 5 runners in the Cambridge Christian girls are not expected to be as dominant as they were last year, but definitely strong enough to go for a second straight state title in 1A and mix it up with the best programs from other classifications in major invites. Gone are Caroline Lehman and Mary Ellen Eudaly, but Cambridge Christian still has two of the state's very elite on their squad in Eliana Black (17:51 5K) and Madeleine Gear (18:47) on their 2022 roster.  Both broke 5 minutes for 1600 meters and 11 minutes for 3200 meter this spring. Two more returnees under 20 minutes for 5K plus Avery Pham transferring over in the track season should hopefully give them enough back-end depth to support Black and Gear upfront. 

6. Maclay School (1A) - The Maclay School girls graduated zero runners from last year's team that was only 21 points from a podium spot as the fourth place squad in the 1A race. And they will not have a senior in this year's varsity lineup either led by juniors Susan Gracie Koeppel (19:15 5K) and Mary Clayton Soto (19:15) with a group of sophomores and freshmen filling out the top 7 behind them. If Cambridge has any depth issues this season, Maclay School could certainly challenge them for the state title.

7. Niceville (4A) - Another team who suffered absolutely no graduation losses while just being on the outside looking in at a state meet podium spot two years ago is last year's 4th place squad in 4A, Niceville. The best program out on the Florida Panhandle, Niceville has 3 girls returning who broke 20 minutes for 5K last year in Kaylin Olivarez, Lauryn Cooper, and Hailey Holtery and another 4 filling out their top 7 who were in the 20-minute range. Their sixth fastest returnee in cross country Trinity Holland turned out to be one of their best runners on the track running 2:17 for 800 meters and 5:18 for 1600 meters, so should drop her 5K time of 20:33 considerably this fall.

8. G. Holmes Braddock (4A) - The Braddock girls could be the best team out of South Florida this season with several others as well vying for that claim. Only graduating one varsity runner from a 7th place squad in the 4A state race last year, Braddock has a strong front runner in Annabella Cardona with an 18:25 5K best while has 4 more girls ranging from 19:52 to 20:07 to work as a pack. The only concern is if anyone from that group is missing, sick, or injured for a race there as over a two-minute spread exists after their fifth returnee from last fall, so hopefully, incoming freshmen or others can step up to provide more of a safety net in depth. 

9. Circle Christian (1A) - The state runners-up in 1A last year to Cambridge Christian, Circle Christian return enough girls from that squad to be back in position to compete for another podium finish in 2022 with five returnees who have run in the 20-minute range or faster led by an All-State caliber runner in Grace Dejesus with a 19:25 5K best. They did lose Sarah Rudolph to graduation as her and Dejesus made for a great 1-2 punch but look for either 8th grader Rachel Judy (20th in 2021 FHSAA 1A state XC race) or Mia Carlson (state track qualifier in 1600 with 5:30 best) to run up with Dejesus and fill Rudolph's void. 

10. Oak Hall School (1A) - Florida's smallest classification is well represented with 4 teams ranked among the top 10 overall in the state with Oak Hall as that fourth team. Their squad may have lost their leader and top runner Lauren Jones to graduation, but she was the only loss from the 2021 team which finished just 9 points away from a state runner-up spot in 1A in third place. Oak Hall has 4 girls who broke 20 minutes for 5K last year including Sydney Miller (19:07), Alivia Dragstedt (19:14), Eliana Eisner (19:44), and Mackenzie Klein (19:57). The key or detriment to their team's success this season will finding a fifth runner to step up as their next two returnees having 5K bests ranging in the low 21 minute range. 

11. St. Thomas Aquinas (3A) - One of the bigger surprises from last year's state meet results was the St. Thomas Aquinas girls leapfrogging several teams such as Our Lady of Lourdes and Dillard they had lost at their regional meet to grab 3rd place in the 3A girls' state race. While they graduated their #5 and #7 runner from that meet, 4 of the 5 varsity runners returning were their top 4 last year and all with plenty of upside potential as either rising sophomores or juniors. Led by All-State finisher Grace Finneran who ran 18:59 at Apalachee Regional Park for 12th place in the 3A race and then ran 5:00 for 1600 meters and 11:13 for 3200 meters on the track, St. Thomas Aquinas will look to close the gap on the two podium squads from last year in 3A in Ponte Vedra and Osceola. 

12. Pensacola Christian (1A) - Virtually the same squad that finished 5th in last year's 1A state race is back for the Pensacola Christian is back for 2022 with the caveat in their top returnee in rising junior RaeAnne Tutton did not finish the race and would have placed them much higher in the competition otherwise. Pensacola Christian will have another formidable trio in the Tutton sisters RaeAnne and freshman Jaimee with matching 18:53 5K PR's along with another ninth grader in Reagan Smith at a 19:22 best. The back end of their top five will be their vulnerability, especially in larger invitational meets with a fourth returnee at 20:32 and the fifth returnee at 21:44. Definitely will be in the mix with Cambridge Christian, Maclay School, and Oak Hall for those two state meet podium spots in 1A. 

13. Dillard (3A) - After breaking the state record this past May in the 4x800 meter relay at 9:03, look for the Dillard girls to continue that momentum into the fall only graduating one runner from their varsity lineup last fall that finished 5th in the 3A state race. Christiana Coleman (18:15), Raquel Edwards (19:25), and Tamaijah Srivens (20:45) were all part of that record-breaking relay with the range as well to be great at the 5K in cross country. Meanwhile, Ja'liah Gamamge (19:59) and Peyton Williams (20:38) return as well to give Dillard at least a scoring 5 back who can run 20 minutes or faster for 5K. 

14. Leon (3A) - No graduation losses for the Leon girls, who have the state's 7th fastest returning team by average at 19:44 with a very strong duo up front for them in Lillee Tang (18:48 5K best) and Lily Moore (19:09). Moore had health issues down the stretch last fall and was not at 100% at the state meet for Leon, thus explains their 11th place finish in the 3A state meet. Expect at least a top 5 finish for them this year in the classification with 4 returnees under 20 minutes and just need one of their two girls in the 21-minute range to move up in the 20 minute range for the fifth spot. 

15. Creekside (4A) - A squad that finished 12th in last year's 4A state race without a single senior graduating, the Creekside girls are looking to move up as a pack and pick off many of the teams who finished ahead of them last year with a potential top 5 finish. While they lack a true front runner and might not have an individual earn All-State honors this fall, Creekside has great depth including an entire top 7 of returnees who all ran in the 20-minute range last fall including only 11 seconds separating their top 4 in Brooke Flaun (20:03), Valeria Tafurt (20:04), Elena Coles (20:10), and Peyton Skoglund (20:11). This tight pack could come in a swarm in races this season to defeat teams who may have issues on the back end of their top 5.

16. Newsome (4A) - Newsome has had an amazing streak as of late in state meet podium finishes in 4A including last year's state runner-up finish. They might lack the true front runners and All-State individuals with Megan Wells and Kendall Hughes graduating, but return at least 7 girls who have run in the 20-minute range for 5K or faster and that certainly is enough for Coach Orlando Greene to work to make another run at a state podium finish in 2022. It will be a taller hill for them to climb though for sure. Rachel Harrar is their top returning individual with a 19:46 5K best, while fellow returnees Avery Landez, Jessica Brickhaus, Sarah Widlak, and Skyler Knott all dipped under 20:30 last fall.

17. Our Lady of Lourdes (3A) - While graduating two of their varsity runners from their 2021 squad which placed 4th in 3A, Our Lady of Lourdes still returns a strong core of runners that should make them once again one of the best teams coming out of South Florida and in striking distance of a state meet podium finish. All-State finisher Olivia Fraga leads the way with her 18:31 5K best, while Olivia Rodriguez makes for a solid #2 runner at 19:19. Their back end is not as strong as a year ago on paper, but have time to try and bring along others to get into the 20-minute range and faster to fill out their scoring five. 

18. St. Brendan (2A) - With four girls back from their program's first-ever state meet podium finish last year (2nd in 2A) that have run under 20 minutes for 5K, St. Brendan certainly can hold down that same spot and potentially be a runner-up again behind prohibitive favorite to 3-peat in Bolles. Emma Hencock (18:39 5K) will be one of the top runners in South Florida as well as the 3A classification, while teammates behind her in support include Gabriella Page (19:15), Kaycie Aquillino (19:31), Daniel Alvarez (19:46). The biggest concern is their fifth fastest returnee and final projected scorer is over 23 minutes as they graduated their #5, #6, and #7 runners from last season that all ran in the 21-minute range, which certainly if remained the case will be tough for their team to be competitive in many races but feel they should be able to find at least one runner to step up into that role.

19. Bishop Kenny (2A) - If St. Brendan does not resolve their #5 runner situation there are plenty of teams that finished just right behind them in 2A including last year's 3rd place squad Bishop Kenny that do not have any depth concerns who certainly want to be on the podium this year. Bishop Kenny had an impressive pack of four that finished all within 3 seconds of each other in last year's state meet just over 20 minutes. With only one graduation loss,  the Bishop Kenny pack will look to move up as a group in the 19-minute range this fall including two who have already broken 20 minutes in Mary Biagini (19:33 5K) and Alexis Holmes (19:39). 

20. North Bay Haven (2A) - Rounding out our preseason top 20 list and third team featured from the Florida Panhandle is the North Bay Haven girls. Their squad has a strong trio with 3 athletes in the 19 minute range for 5K between Charleen Elizondo (19:09), Lakyn Carmichael (19:17), and Kyla Faint (19:33). WIth two more returnees hovering just over 21 minutes in Katherine Lundgren (21:07) and Mallory Franklin, North Bay Haven is looking to get some redemption at the state meet after last year arguably running their best race at their regional meet in a runner-up finish behind Bolles including beating Bishop Kenny, but then finishing a disappointing 11th in the 2A state race.