Despite the course running slow at the Astronaut Invitational, the Winter Springs girls made quite an impression in their team win to be one of five unranked teams to move into the top 20 statewide rankings as well as moving up in the 3A rankings.
Updated top 20 team rankings for all-classification and top 10 team rankings for each classification for Florida high school girls cross country after the third official week of meets.
All-Classification Girls Team Rankings
Many of the same teams that were last to be called up on the state meet podium last November in Tallahassee find themselves near the top of the rankings list in the first quarter of the season led by defending 2A state champions Bolles and followed by 1A champions Cambridge Christian, 3A champions Ponte Vedra and 4A champions Buchholz.
Bolles has already notched two major and decisive in-state wins this season at Cecil Field and Florida Horse Park and will be traveling out of state in two weeks for the Alexander Asics Invitational in Georgia. With a fifth runner at 20 minutes flat season best, Bolles might be the first team to have 5 under 20 minutes soon. Ella Mickler's resurgence has been a huge lift for their squad as the #2 runner behind their star front runner Jillian Candelino.
Cambridge Christian showed it will not be a rebuilding year or much of a drop off from their banner and historic year last fall when they finished second to Bolles at Cecil Field. In their last two meets since then, their squad has only dropped their times since to work their top 5 team average down to 18:55. Not as difficult to get a team average under 19 minutes when have a #1 runner like Eliana Black leading the state with a 17:20 season best and a #2 runner like Madeleine Gear at 18:13 for her 5K best this season.
Ponte Vedra and Buchholz actually faced off on Ponte Vedra's home course over Labor Day weekend at the Craig Speziale Invitational with the advantage going to the 3A champions Ponte Vedra over the reigning 4A champions Buchhholz. Ponte Vedra has two runners rolling right now running their best ever in juniors Lindy White and Daisy Ross, but the scary thought is their #1 runner from last year in Sofia Bushkell with a 19:42 season best is not even close to her top form from a year ago when she ran 18:16 and finished 5th in the 3A state meet as a ninth grader. If they can Bushkell close to running that fast again, Ponte Vedra might have the best top 3 in the state.
Similar to last season, Buchholz has a delicate situation in keeping all of their top 4 healthy which is a stout lineup of girls who can run 19 minutes or faster, but then there is a gap to fifth runner (currently at 21:14 season best). So if any meet over the course of the season that they are missing one of those four girls, it can drastically change their team outcome, but the most important race is not till November to get them all on the starting line together to try and repeat as the 4A champions.
Another podium squad from last fall in 3A state runners-up Osceola moves ahead of Buchholz this week into the #4 spot. While their season best times might be inflated by a potentially short course at Anclote, Osceola has also ran and won on a difficult slower courses this season including at the Seffner Christian Invitational this past weekend for their fifth invitational victory on the season.
The best clash of top ranked teams this upcoming weekend will be at the North Port Invitational between FL #2 Cambridge Christian and #4 ranked Osceola. Osceola has only ranked against 3 teams ranked inside the top 20 in the state this season with #9 Naples, #13 Berkeley Prep, and #18 Sarasota, so will be a good opportunity for them to measure up against one of the top ranked teams in Cambridge.
1. Bolles (1)
2. Cambridge Christian (2)
3. Ponte Vedra (4)
4. Osceola (Seminole) (5)
5. Buchholz (3)
6. Maclay School (6)
7. G. Holmes Braddock (8)
8. Pensacola Christian (7)
9. Naples (8)
10. Leon (11)
11. Bishop Kenny (15)
12. Episcopal School of Jacksonville (UR)
13. Berkeley Prep (19)
14. Creekside (16)
15. Satellite (UR)
16. Oak Hall (14)
17. Niceville (UR)
18. Sarasota (UR)
19. Fleming Island (11)
20. Winter Springs (UR)
4A Girls Team Rankings
4A is very intriguing with the top 2 ranked teams having enough firepower up front in the defending champions Buchholz and arguably the best team right now in South Florida in G. Holmes Braddock, but neither team has the depth or luxury to survive injuries or have one of the runners currently inside their top 5 to be missing in action.
Example, Buchholz had two of their top 4 girls (#2 Lucy Voss & #3 Emma White) not racing this past weekend at their home meet in the Bobcat Classic and finished fourth in the team standings including behind an unranked Mandarin squad. When at full strength at Cecil Field to start the season, Buchholz clearly looked the favorites to repeat as the 4A state champions as the third place squad behind only Bolles and Cambridge Christian with a 19:36 team average.
Meanwhile, the Braddock girls opened their season with a strong runner-up finish up in Ocala at the Florida Horse Park Invitational behind only FL #1 ranked Bolles and will have another big race this weekend on Saturday at the Spanish River Invitational in Boca Raton as a favorite to win the 3A/4A race. They had two under 20 minutes at Florida Horse Park in Annabella Cardona and Jada Garcia. Expect to see at least a 3rd under 20 minutes and the rest of their top 5 in the 20 minute range at Spanish River.
Creekside has a boys team that is gunning for a state title and they might have a girls team that could slide on the podium with them as they sit currently in the #3 spot for 4A as they were only 18 points behind the 3A state champions Ponte Vedra in their last meet at the Ridgeview Bob Hans Invitational. Their team has an emerging star in Alyson Johnson, who won the Bob Hans Invite including ahead of the top runners from Ponte Vedra in the race with her.
The Niceville girls had a disappointing opener at Cecil Field, but seemed to have rebounded in recent weeks including a runner-up finish last weekend at the Gulf Coast Stampede in Pensacola as they have a squad without a clear front runner but plenty of depth if any of the teams in front of them have key missing pieces from their scoring 5.
Sarasota was the second highest finishing 4A squad at Florida Horse Park Invite (7th) behind only Braddock and finished 3rd in their season opener at Babe Zaharias behind only 3A state title contender Osceola and potential 2A podium squad Berkeley Prep. Sarasota has a great 1-2 punch in Indy Grajalez and Ella Menke both at 19:24 with their season bests and had a transfer from New Jersey in Flavia Almeida step into the #3 spot for them.
The Plant girls had a down year last year after being state champions two years ago, but will look to have a pack working together to move up throughout the season to pick off teams currently ranked ahead of them. Only 40 seconds separates their top 5 runners but will need to move up with their times ranging all over 21 minutes flat.
The Viera girls also bounced back like Niceville did from a poor showing at Cecil Field by grabbing a runner-up finish at Astronaut Invitational with two freshman in Celina Coryell and Addison Elwell leading their squad. If they can get their two seniors and top returnees in sub 20 minute runners Isabella Narvaez and Brooke Gerrits running like were a year ago, their team can certainly move up the top 10.
The Sunlake girls acquitted themselves well at Cecil Field after opening with a win at USF in The Claw Distance Classic. Last week, they took runner-up honors at the Lecanto Invite behind 3A squad Ocala Vanguard.
Melbourne edged out last year's state runners-up Newsome by 1 point for runner-up at the Seffner Christian Invitational as they both finished behind 3A state title contender Osceola. The Melbourne girls like their boys team are really a team to not overlook in a very competitive Brevard County running scene.
Meanwhile, Newsome has a streak of state meet podium finishes to keep alive and will have to work some magic down the stretch to keep it going in a very competitive 4A classification of teams looking to get on that podium for the first time or first time in a while.
1. Buchholz (1)
2. G. Holmes Braddock (2)
3. Creekside (3)
4. Niceville (4)
5. Sarasota (6)
6. Sunlake (6)
7. HB Plant (7)
8. Viera (UR)
9. Melbourne (9)
10. Newsome (8)
3A Girls Team Rankings
The 3A classification might be the most competitive and deepest classification among the 4 for girls. 7 of the top 20 ranked teams in the state overall come from the classification and there are several teams that either have been ranked in the top 20 or will be ranked in the top 20 not included as well.
The Ponte Vedra and Osceola collision course at the state meet is certainly destined to happen after they battled last fall. Both teams are looking just as strong if not stronger than a year ago. Osceola has won 5 straight invitationals to start the season. Ponte Vedra defeated the 4A state champions Buchholz and still not hitting on all cylinders just yet.
The Naples girls were not at full strength at the Fort Myers Invitational this past weekend, so don't judge them based on that result but their prior races this season including a runner-up finish at Osceola in the Dunbar Tiger Jamboree last month. Both Osceola (7 at 20:34 or faster) and Naples (5 at 20:34 or faster) have outlier fast course times, but both teams are legit good if racing on harder or fair courses as well.
The Leon girls ran a very competitive close second place by 5 points to a potential state meet podium squad in Maclay at the Big Bend Invitational over Labor Day weekend in bragging rights to see who the best team is in Tallahassee. With Lily Moore (18:44) and Lillee Tang (19:07), Leon certainly has two All-State caliber individuals that could possibly pull their whole team on the podium with them this fall.
The Satellite girls faired much better at the Florida Horse Park Invitational than they did at Cecil Field to leapfrog some teams that beat them in their season opener to move up a handful of spots from fifth to tenth in the rankings and could be competing for the Cape Coast Conference title in two weeks.
Fleming Island was one of our biggest team risers after Cecil Field going from unranked to #11 in the state. They came back down to earth a little bit at Florida Horse Park (8th place), but have been missing their #5 runner Kaitlyn Scherer in their last two contests after they had 5 girls in the 20 minute range at Cecil Field to finish sixth including ahead of 3A schools Leon and Satellite.
The Winter Springs girls really impressed at the Astronaut Invitational securing the team win and most of their girls ran season bests on a day that was a struggle for many on the course. Their team also has a new impactful front runner to take over the big shoes left by their former star Caroline Wells in senior Simone Monaco, who won the Astronaut Invite over several highly ranked individuals in 19:15. Winter Springs certainly could be the best team this fall in the Orlando metro area.
Our Lady of Lourdes Academy overcome a lot of adversity over the last few weeks outside of competition and showed resiliency in winning the Fort Myers Invitational including against a short-handed Naples squad on Saturday night crossing over Alligator Alley on I-4 from Miami.
Another team from South Florida in Dillard is a bit of a mystery team and clear talent on their roster after setting the state record in the 4x800 last May, but should get a better read on them as well as Our Lady of Lourdes this weekend at Spanish River.
St. Augustine jumps back into the rankings after some strong racing and fast times run over the past few weeks including 3 of their runners now owning season best 5K times of 19:30 or faster led by Katelyn Lawrence going sub 19 to win the Joe McKinney Classic at New Smyrna Beach.
1. Ponte Vedra (1)
2. Osceola (Seminole) (2)
3. Naples (3)
4. Leon (6)
5. Satellite (10)
6. Fleming Island (5)
7. Winter Springs (UR)
8. Our Lady of Lourdes Academy (8)
9. St. Augustine (UR)
10. Dillard (4)
2A Girls Team Rankings
The Bolles girls are still the best team in 2A by a mile and many more with really the only question in the classification still who will be the team that will join them on the podium come November as the state runner-up.
It could be another team from Jacksonville and there are two nearby schools that could grab second place between Bishop Kenny and Episcopal Schoo. Bishop Kenny in the preseason appeared to be that team as well as at Cecil Field.
Episcopal had a middle school runner inserted into their varsity lineup as their #2 runner at Florida Horse Park that totally changed their team's outlook after finishing 3rd behind only Bolles and the #2 squad in 4A right now in Braddock. Episcopal finished just one point ahead of Berkeley Prep out of Tampa, who also is very much in the mix as a team to look out for as a potential state runner-up team at season's end.
Last year's state runner-up in 2A in St. Brendan has yet to really show what kind of team they are in 2022 as one of the first opportunities at the King of the Hill Invite heading into Labor Day weekend saw their top runner and All-State individual Emma Hencock take a wrong turn with several of the race leaders to finish the course short and not get an official time. St. Brendan on Friday at the Spanish River Invite will get a chance to see if they deserve to still be viewed as the #2 team in 2A.
11th at Cecil Field and 9th at Florida Horse Park, Mount Dora girls have held their own in some very competitive and deep meets this season that should make them a team that can finish well inside the top 10 at the state meet when it is only 2A schools that they are facing. Mount Dora was also a runner-up to last year's 1A state champions Cambridge Christian at the Hawk on the Hill Invitational this past weekend.
Pine Crest has Brooke Hooper, who might have what it takes to challenge Jillian Candelino for the 2A individual state title to renew that great Bolles vs. Pine Crest team rivalry from a few years back, but she will also try to pull her team as well up that ladder in the 2A team standings. Pine Crest will get to measure up against last year's 2A state runners-up St. Brendan this Friday at the Spanish River Invite.
Bishop Moore had a close battle with 3A squad Winter Springs two weeks ago at the Winter Springs Invitational losing by only 7 points as they are two of the best Orlando area teams arguably right now. BIshop Moore has a strong #1 runner in sub 19 minute performer Paige McCaul, but will need their fifth runner to move up during the season to help them move into the top 5 for the 2A classification.
The Robinson girls celebrated a team win earlier this week at the West Hillsborough Invitational and after only two days rest in between from their prior race in a third place showing at the Seffner Christian Invitational finishing just ahead of another Tampa Bay area 2A squad in Calvary Christian, who cracks into the top 10 rankings for the first time this season.
1. Bolles (1)
2. Bishop Kenny (2)
3. Episcopal School of Jacksonville (UR)
4. Berkeley Prep (4)
5. St. Brendan (3)
6. Mount Dora (6)
7. Bishop Moore (7)
8. Pine Crest (8)
9. Robinson (UR)
10. Calvary Christian (Clearwater) (UR)
1A Girls Team Rankings
The top 5 for 1A girls is all high caliber and elite teams led by Cambridge Christian, who appear well on their way to win their program's second state title this fall. Their team has firepower up front led by the state's fastest runner right now in Eliana Black as well as depth with 7 runners who have run in the 20 minute range or faster this season.
However, 1A is no cake walk this year with plenty of great contender squads behind them that have been winning major invitationals over larger schools this fall in Maclay School, Pensacola Christian, and Oak Hall.
Maclay School won the Big Bend Invitational two weekends ago over cross town rival and 3A school Leon in Tallahassee. The Pensacola Christian girls won the Gulf Coast Stampede in Pensacola over a field of squads from numerous states, while enjoying a nice buffer in their point margin over 4A ranked squad Niceville.
The Oak Hall girls won the Bobcat Classic on Saturday over a short-handed Buchholz squad on the home course for the reigning 4A state champions.
Meanwhile, Circle Christian has 3 girls that have broken 20 minutes already this season to build around and try to get back on the podium after a state runner-up finish in 2021 behind Cambridge Christian.
Looking to the South, Benjamin School and South Florida HEAT appear to be the best performing small schools down in Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas. Two programs from Naples in Community School and Village School are going back and forth including a close finish between them at the Fort Myers Invite to see who is the top team in the Southwest corner of the state.
Lakeland Christian has scored two top 3 finishes in invitational races this season at the Jim Ryun FCA Invitational and St. Cloud Invitational, so look for them to try and at least challenge for that next ranking spot after the clear top 5 tier that has emerged in 1A.
1. Cambridge Christian (1)
2. Maclay School (2)
3. Pensacola Christian (3)
4. Oak Hall School (4)
5. Circle Christian School (4)
6. Benjamin School (8)
7. Community School of Naples (UR)
8. Village School of Naples (7)
9. Lakeland Christian School (10)
10. South Florida HEAT (UR)