FL #2 ranked and 4A top ranked Creekside boys before racing at the Ridgeview Bob Hans Invitational last weekend.
Updated top 20 team rankings for all-classification and top 10 team rankings for each classification for Florida high school boys cross country after the third official week of meets.
All-Classifications Boys Team Rankings
Belen Jesuit is not even at full strength, yet their superior depth has been showcased already early this season why not only considered the premier squad in Florida but also earning a US top 15 ranking by MileSplit in the preseason. They easily defeated the top teams at Florida Horse Park including defending 2A state champions Bolles by an 84 point margin and as well as won the Miami-Dade Youth County Fair Championships this past Friday in sweltering Miami heat over 4A podium hopefuls Christopher Columbus.
Belen Jesuit will be looking to roll out their fastest times of the season this weekend with their top 7 in Huntsville, Alabama at the Southern Showcase, while their next 7 and beyond will be trying to showcase their depth and finish well at Spanish River.
Sunlake slides just ahead of Bolles after beating them head to head at Cecil Field earlier and while the top runner for Bolles in Aidan Ryan continues to work himself back into shape. When Ryan is closer to top form later in the season, would not be surprised to see them surge up a spot or two and even maybe challenge Creekside for the #2 spot.
Speaking of Creekside, they might be the only squad in the state right now capable of giving Belen Jesuit a run for the top spot and we will have to wait till the FSU Pre-State Invitational on October 8th to get that matchup between the state's top two ranked.
Much of the pecking order in the remaining top 20 remains the same except for previously unranked Fleming Island leap frogging many squads after their strong fourth place showing at Florida Horse Park. Teams that were not punished falling back in the field while missing some key top 5 runners included Circle Christian and Buchholz who showed what they are capable of when at full strength to open at Cecil Field.
While some teams benefited from racing on some fast courses over last 2 weeks, that did not raise their stocks unless they actually went out and beat top quality and higher ranked teams in the process. Indian Rocks Christian looked very impressive and dominant in their team win at the Seffner Christian Invitational while getting back their top returnee Aidan Griffin despite their team finishing well without him at Cecil Field.
North Port Invitational this weekend will also have some opportunity for squads to be movers and shakers with Indian Rocks Christian, Plant, Fort Myers, Cambridge Christian, Cape Coral, and Sarasota all ranked in the top 20 currently and in attendance to race.
1. Belen Jesuit (1)
2. Creekside (2)
3. Sunlake (4)
4. Bolles (3)
5. Indian Rocks Christian (6)
6. Christopher Columbus (5)
7. Niceville (7)
8. HB Plant (10)
9. Circle Christian (8)
10. Buchholz (9)
11. Fleming Island (UR)
12. Viera (11)
13. Fort Myers (12)
14. Cambridge Christian (13)
15. Leon (14)
16. Cape Coral (15)
17. Sarasota (19)
18. Melbourne (16)
19. Rockledge (16)
20. Ponte Vedra (18)
Dropped Out: 20. Satellite
4A Boys Team Rankings
4A boys still remains the deepest and most exciting class to watch this season as there are more than a handful of teams who legitimately have a shot at being one of the top two state meet podium teams.
Creekside still appears to be the favorite after winning convincingly on a fast course at Cecil Field and a slow course at the Ridgeview Bob Hans Invitational. Their next major race will be next weekend at the Katie Caples Invitational with many of the top Jacksonville area and North Florida teams in attendance.
Sunlake and Christopher Columbus will get a chance to face off this Saturday at the Spanish River Invitational in a field with the FL #1 ranked Belen Jesuit boys leading the way. One team could come out of that race feeling like the top challenger to the current favorites Creekside.
Niceville was missing several varsity runners at the Gulf Coast Stampede, but their depth still prevailed for them to win in a sixth runner tiebreaker over an Alabama squad in Scottsboro in the multi-state event.
Fleming Island makes the biggest jump going from unranked to sixth after running at full strength at the Florida Horse Park after not doing so at Cecil Field and finishing just behind the Plant boys in fourth place overall with both squads having 3 under 17 minutes on the course.
Buchholz was missing their #2 runner and sub 16 minute runner Mason Kawaja at Horse Park, but raced and raced well the following weekend at their home Bobcat Classic, so their team finish at Horse Park can't be held against them after running well in their opener at full strength at Cecil Field.
The defending state champions Viera won at Astronaut Invitational despite having a glaring need to shore up their #5 runner spot. Sarasota was not far off Plant and Fleming Island at the Florida Horse Park Invite.
Melbourne was a respectable runner-up to Indian Rocks Christian at the Seffner Christian Invitational on a slower than usual Holloway Park course and could challenge Viera along with 3A's Rockledge and 2A's Satellite for best team in the Cape Coast Conference this fall with their 37 second spread.
To show how deep that 4A is Palmetto Ridge finished right behind two of the best teams in 3A right now after favorites Belen Jesuit in FL #13 Fort Myers and FL #16 Cape Coral, yet is dropped outside of the top 10 and would be ranked 11th right now if the list was extended. Their squad could easily jump close to the top 5 in the coming weeks.
1. Creekside (1)
2. Sunlake (2)
3. Christopher Columbus (3)
4. Niceville (4)
5. HB Plant (6)
6. Buchholz (5)
7. Fleming Island (UR)
8. Viera (7)
9. Sarasota (9)
10. Melbourne (8)
Dropped Out: 10. Palmetto Ridge
3A Boys Team Rankings
Not a lot of movement in the 3A boys rankings with the exception of Fleming Island making a big leap from the 8th position to 2nd spot to bump last year's state runner-up Fort Myers to third and the rest behind them one spot lower. Boosted by the transfer of Graham Myers (1A state runner-up in 3200 meters) and the return of John Keester IV to racing (missed Cecil Field), Fleming Island looked a legitimate state meet podium contending squad at the Florida Horse Park Invitational as the second highest finishing 3A squad behind only the race winners and prohibitive favorites Belen Jesuit.
Fort Myers had a very close race in their home invitational with Cape Coral that emerges as a real threat to them as well as a rising contender in 3A ranks led by the race winner in Declan Ziomek. Leon raced well on the state meet course two weeks ago to tally a low team score of 27 points at the Big Bend Invitational with a young squad around the defending individual state champion Patrick Koon.
Rockledge nearly knocked off the defending 4A state champions Viera at the Astronaut Invitational led by the race champion Devin Makousky. Ponte Vedra was impressive in winning their home invitational over Labor Day weekend and should be intriguing to see when they match up next against Fleming Island to see who is the best 3A squad right now in Saint Johns Country.
Satellite cannot count out lurking despite a sixth place finish at the Florida Horse Park Invitational. Believe they are headed out of state this weekend to run fast times on the same course used for the RunningLane Championships in Huntsville, Alabama.
Naples already has run on a faster course (potentially short) at Sebring two weeks ago that on paper projects them to be the 5th best in 3A, but in reality more of a team that fits just inside the top 10 after finishing 4th at the Fort Myers Invitational behind the likes of Fort Myers and Cape Coral.
Tampa Jesuit makes their first appearance in the top 10 as they were the 4th highest finishing team at the Florida Horse Park Invite in 12th place behind Belen Jesuit, Fleming Island, and Satellite.
Right now only one squad in 3A is ranked in the top 10 in the state regardless of class in top ranked Belen Jesuit, so will be intriguing to see if any of the teams behind them in the classification step up over last half of the season to prove themselves to belong in that next tier of programs.
1. Belen Jesuit (1)
2. Fleming Island (8)
3. Fort Myers (2)
4. Leon (3)
5. Cape Coral (4)
6. Rockledge (5)
7. Ponte Vedra (6)
8. Satellite (7)
9. Naples (9)
10. Tampa Jesuit (UR)
Dropped Out: 10. Winter Springs
2A Boys Team Rankings
Nobody dropped out of the top 10 team rankings in 2A, but there was some slight shuffling thanks to Calvary Christian's stellar team performance at the Florida Horse Park Invitational finishing 7th in a quality field as the second 2A squad (7th, 262 points) behind only the top ranked defending state champions from Bolles (2nd, 141 pts).
Calvary Christian defeated head to head two higher ranked squads prior in previous #2 Berkeley Prep and #5 South Walton in the race to suddenly make them a state meet podium contender to grab that runner-up spot behind certain champions Bolles. Their top 4 is impressive with only 28 seconds separating their season bests from 16:41 to 17:09, but a big gap to their fifth runner at 18:59 makes them vulnerable too.
Previous #3 Lake Highland Prep and previous #8 Astronaut went head to head at the Astronaut Invitational with Lake Highland Prep (6th, 162 pts) only 20 points and 1 place ahead of Astronaut (7th, 172 pts), yet still find three teams ranked between them this week to show how closely competitive these teams are to one another.
Mater Lakes Academy is one of those teams ranked in between them as one of the best 2A squads from South Florida, who has held their own against powerhouse programs in their area finishing second at the King of Hill meet behind only 4A Christopher Columbus then third place at the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair Championships behind FL #1 ranked Belen Jesuit and FL #6 Columbus.
Meanwhile, South Walton already has four runners under 17 minutes this season and their next 3 varsity runners just over 18 minutes to put them in the mix.
Bishop Verot finished 5th as the top 2A school at the Fort Myers Invitational, while they were runners-up two weeks prior in their previous race at the Lemon Bay Invitational behind only last year's 3A state runners-up from Fort Myers High.
The King's Academy boys have a stellar 1-2 punch in Colton Lawson (16:04 season best) and Michael Castillo (16:42) along with a serviceable #3 runner in Hudson Gates (17:37), but the depth falls off drastically after that but still were able to win their home invitational this past weekend after taking 3 of the top 4 places individually.
1. Bolles (1)
2. Calvary Christian (Clearwater) (9)
3. Berkeley Prep (2)
4. Lake Highland Prep (3)
5. Mater Lakes Academy (4)
6. South Walton (5)
7. Astronaut (8)
8. Bishop Verot (6)
9. Bishop Kenny (7)
10. The King's Academy (10)
1A Boys Team Rankings
The majority of the 1A boys team rankings stayed true over the last two weeks including no movement among the top 5 ranked squads as the defending 1A champions Indian Rocks Christian are hitting on all cylinders so far including a decisive team victory at the Seffner Christian Invitational this past weekend at Holloway Park. The biggest news of out of that race was getting their top returnee Aidan Griffin back as he returned from injury and should continue to get stronger and better shape each week to bolster a lineup that nearly had 5 under 17 minutes without him at Cecil Field.
Circle Christian was not at full strength at the Florida Horse Park Invitational missing the always key and valuable fifth runner to set them back a bit in the competitive field after a solid opener at Cecil Field with 4 runners under 17 minutes and their fifth at 17:30.
Cambridge Christian has benefited from running on fast courses with significant pavement in their last two meets to see their times drop from a solid opener as the 3rd squad in 1A at Cecil Field with their 16:30 team average for their top 5 runners as the fastest currently in the classification. They will ultimately need to either beat Indian Rocks Christian or Circle Christian head to head or defeat some similarly high ranked teams from other classifications at a major invitational, which they have that opportunity this weekend at North Port led by current 5K state leader Braxton Legg at 15:14.
Pensacola Christian also has to be looked upon as a potential state meet podium squad in 1A, especially after their recent team performance in a 3rd place finish against large schools and teams from several states at the Gulf Coast Stampede.
Oak Hall has always been in the mix for years in this classification and appear to be a work in progress this year on the back end of their top 5 to be a podium team again to compliment their talented front runner and state title contender in Caden Montini (16:17 season best). Oak Hall has skipped out on major races like Cecil Field and Florida Horse Park and raced in smaller local meets, but garnered a third place finish in the Bobcat Classic in Gainesville last weekend.
There is a strong group of 1A schools found in the Southwest corner of the state battling it out week to week and this past weekend at the Fort Myers Invitational it was the Community School of Naples as the top finishing school (8th, 246 pts) in the big Saturday night meet from the classification ahead of Southwest Florida Christian (10th, 285 pts) and Out of Door Academy (11th, 294 pts).
Providence School has been the best 1A squad in the Jacksonville area with a one minute spread of their top 5 runners ranging from 17:25 to 18:25 after finishing 5th at the Craig Speziale Invitational hosted by Ponte Vedra over Labor Day weekend.
After a strong third place showing in the Harmony Invitational two weekends ago, Holy Trinity Academy finished 12th out of 27 teams behind a majority of 3A and 4A schools at the Astronaut Invitational this past Saturday.
1. Indian Rocks Christian (1)
2. Circle Christian (2)
3. Cambridge Christian (3)
4. Pensacola Christian Academy (4)
5. Oak Hall School (5)
6. Community School of Naples (7)
7. Providence School (8)
8. Southwest Florida Christian (6)
9. Holy Trinity Academy (9)
10. Out of Door Academy (10)