St. Leo Abbey Invitational Meet Preview

Many of the top runners and teams in the Tampa Bay Region will be racing on Saturday at the St. Leo Abbey Invitational including Cypress Creek's Zach Poekert, who just ran a 15:41 5K season best at Spanish River Invitational last weekend and will be one of the top race contenders to win. 

Virtual meet projections for the St. Leo Abbey Invitational to be held at the Abbey Golf Course in St. Leo on Saturday, September 24th. will be on-site with race video and photo coverage. 

Boys Virtual Meet Preview - Girls Virtual Meet Preview

The Osceola (Seminole) girls will be heavily favored in the team competition with strong top four including Avery Latto (19:03 5K SB), Abigail Clements (19:05), Elle Mehltretter (19:01), and Kennedy Downey (19:01) all consistently running in the 19 minute range this season and coming off a close runner-up finish at the North Port Invitational.

The third place squad from North Port Invitational in Berkeley Prep should be the next best team in the field with a strong top 4 as well with Hannah Latif (19:08), Emma Flowers (19:17), Kylie Stephens (19:39), and Emily McDermott (20:04). Both area teams look like legitimate state meet podium teams this fall between Osceola in 3A and Berkeley Prep in 2A.

A trio of squads in Sarasota, Plant, and Robinson look to battle it out for third place. Robinson and Plant both have well packed squads with their top 5 spreads hovering around 60 seconds, while Sarasota has a strong 2 up front in Ella Menke and Indy Grajalez capable of top 10 individual runs.

Individually, 2A state 1600 meter champion Elizabeth Williamson from Academy of Holy Names will be the pre-race favorite as the lone sub 19 minute performer this season in the field (18:47 at Babe Zaharias Challenge & 18:48 at North Port Invite).

Other individuals to watch beyond the top runners aforementioned on the top ranked teams include River Ridge's Summerlynn Kingston (19:00 PR) and Calvary Christian duo of Hannah Kasper and Lauren Mahan

The field is very strong for the boys at St. Leo with 10 runners who have already run under 16:30 this season led by Cypress Creek's Zack Poekert coming off a 15:41 season best runner-up run at the Spanish River Invitational. 

Behind Poekert, Berkeley Prep has two runners coming off swift season best and high finishes at the North Port Invitational in Kirin Karver (15:48) and Liam Jordan (15:51) to challenge him as both were in the hunt for the win last week to take first place at North Port near the final stages of the race.

Other talented runners in the field to watch to be among the front group of runners include another duo but from Sarasota in Will Hartvigsen and Alec Miller as well as Plant's Albert-Tawil Brown, St. Petersburg's Nickolas Forbes, and Canterbury School's Dylan Bailey.

Four teams stand out among the rest with the Plant, Sarasota, Berkeley Prep, and Calvary Christian. Plant was third last week at North Port Invitational, while Sarasota was 50 points behind them in seventh place. Plant has a strong front 3 with Tawil-Brown, George Dirks (16:31), and Tyler Rogers capable of top 15 finishes at St. Leo, while arguably the best depth in their #4-7 than any other team in the field with a pack of runners capable of running in the low 17 minute range. 

Calvary Christian had a strong showing earlier this season at the Florida Horse Park Invite (7th place) despite being vulnerable in the fifth runner spot and were a top 5 finishing squad at the Seffner Christian Invite two weeks ago. Both Berkeley Prep and Calvary Christian are looking to prove themselves as some of the top teams in the 2A classification and hoping to improve the back end of their scoring five. 

Venue Info.:

The Abbey Golf Course (directly across from St. Leo University)

33640 State Road 52 W.

St. Leo, Fl 33574

The Abbey Golf Course at St. Leo has been home to the NCAA Division II cross country national and regional championships as well as numerous other college races.

Race Times:

College Men - 7:25AM

College Women - 8:00AM

High School Boys - 8:25AM

High School Girls - 8:45AM

Combined Junior Varsity - 9:10AM

Combined Middle School 3K - 9:35AM

Combined Elementary School 2K - 9:50AM