Below athletes, teams, and coaches have been selected and recognized as the very best in high school girls' cross country for the state of Florida from the past 2022 season by flrunners.com.
Runner Of The Year - Eliana Black (Cambridge Christian)
The Cambridge Christian freshman Eliana Black went undefeated against the in-state competition for the entire fall including an impressive streak of going under 18 minutes in all 9 of her races for the season. This year's 1A state champion in cross country, Black also picked up notable wins at the Cecil Field Summer Classic, North Port Invitational, and FSU Pre-State Invitational. She set both meet and course records at Cecil Field and North Port.
She just missed qualifying individually for the Team Nationals with her 8th place finish at the Southeast Regional, while finishing ahead of 3A state champion Lillee Tang and 2A state champion Jillian Candelino to stamp out any discussion if any other runners in Florida were better than her with the collection of race champions going head to head in the post-season.
In virtually all of the races that she ran in this season, Black would normally blast out the first mile and never be seriously challenged or have any runners be able to keep up.
Coach Of The Year - Edwin McTureous (Oak Hall School)
Coach Edwin McTureous earns this award not because he had the state's best team for the year. Far from it as for a good portion of it, the Oak Hall girls were not even in the discussion among the top 3 teams in their classification. All the attention and discussion up until the regional meet week was how hotly contested the 1A classification team race for the girls would be between Cambridge Christian, Maclay School, and Pensacola Christian.
However, the Oak Hall girls got hot at the right time in championship season to defeat all 3 of those strong top-tier-ranked squads to win the program's fifth overall state cross-country team title all under the guidance of Edwin McTureous. With only one senior graduating from their top 7, Oak Hall will definitely not be sneaking up on anyone in 2023.
Team Of The Year - Bolles
The Bolles girls continued their reign of dominance in the 2A classification with their 3rd consecutive state team title in cross country while extending their FHSAA state meet record of total overall titles to 14. Meanwhile, their head coach Tony Ryan also broke a tie shared with Plant's Roy Harrison previously at a dozen state team titles. Their 2021 season culminated with another state title in the prior fall, but the team also underperformed from their own expectations set from their dominant 2020 campaign with some of their top returning varsity individuals not racing as well.
The Bolles girls responded well in 2022 by not just running well ahead of the competition but also beating the ghosts of their past best times led by a stout senior trio of Jillian Candelino, Ella Mickler, and Elizabeth Csikai. Candelino continued to dominant races up front with win after win, but it was Mickler as a sub-18-minute #2 runner and Csikai as a consistent mid-18-minute 5K performer that really made their team unbeatable against in-state foes.
Their squad had a season-best team average of 18:24, which was the best in Florida including nearly their entire top 7 running under 19:30 for the season.
Senior Of The Year - Lillee Tang (Leon)
Lillee Tang had such an incredible close to her final season of high school cross country at Leon High School. After a modest start to her cross-country season including a 49th-place finish of 20:15 at Cecil Field in late August, Tang would finish the season as the 3A state cross-country champion with a 17:53 PR performance in Tallahassee.
Tang then in the post-season would take it up a notch with a 12th place finish at the Team Southeast Regional ahead of another senior in the strong discussion for the senior of the year award in 2A state champion Jillian Candelino of Bolles then the following weekend be Florida's top finisher and only one earning All-American honors at the RunningLane Championships with a 15th place finish of 18:15 in the championship race against some of the nation's best runners.
Junior Of The Year - Addison Dempsey (Cardinal Mooney)
One of the biggest breakout stars of the 2022 cross-country season was Cardinal Mooney junior Addison Dempsey. In only her second season of cross country and yet to run a track season, Dempsey elevated from being a 12th place and 19-minute 5K performers as a sophomore in 2021 to becoming one of Florida's fastest in 2022 including 3 sub 18-minute races added to her credentials.
Dempsey really drew attention to herself when she blazed a 17:29 5K PR at her district meet. At the state meet, she went sub 18 again in a runner-up finish to Jillian Candelino in the 2A state race with a 17:53. Dempsey ended up being the state of Florida's top performer and finisher at the Champs South Regional in Charlotte with a 15th place effort of 17:48 as she was just 5 places and 16 seconds off qualifying for nationals.
Sophomore Of The Year - Elizabeth Williamson (Academy of Holy Names)
After winning the 2A state outdoor title in the 1600 meter run with a 4:53 PR last spring as a ninth grader, Elizabeth Williamson entered this year with high expectations to keep that momentum going into her sophomore season of cross country. She ended up having a uneven season of performances where she would race well one week and maybe not as well the following. Williamson finished 9th at the North Port Invitational on the fast 5K course running 18:48, but then the following week on a much more difficult St. Leo Abbey Invitational course winning in a time of 18:54.
The most important race of the season though Williamson really put it together in the 2A state race finishing third for the second consecutive year behind two sub 18 minute performers in Jillian Candelino and Addison Dempsey while running a new 5K best of 18:04. Williamson finished ahead of another talented sophomore in Mackenzie De Lisle of Bishop Verot, who was also up for serious consideration for the award especially after breaking 18 minutes on the track in the post-season.
Freshmen Of The Year - Eliana Black (Cambridge School)
When the best runner in the state regardless of grade, of course then Eliana Black is the best freshman in the state too. Though technically got plenty of high school racing experience as a seventh and eighth grader at Cambridge Christian, Black really made a jump with her performances this fall taking over as the front runner for her squad with the graduation of Division 1 bound runners Caroline Lehman and Mary Ellen Eudaly. Black (17:15 season best) was well over a minute faster than the next fastest ninth grader in the state in Malia Hambrick of North Port (18:29).
Middle School Runner Of The Year - Annabella Tomasic (The Christ School)
The best middle school runner in the state of Florida could be better than all the high school runners in Florida in Annabella Tomasic, a sixth grader at The Christ School in Orlando. Tomasic won her second straight FLYRA Middle School State title setting the 3K course and meet record at Holloway Park with her 10:19 performance. Then she got a chance to race against high school competition in the post-season at the flrunners.com PR Festival On The Track in which she clocked a new 5K personal best time of 17:27. She is a child prodigy phenom to continue to watch her development with over two more years to go before her freshman year of high school.
Tomasic finished well ahead of two high school runners in the 5K track race who broke 18 minutes for the first time ever and were also honored as members of our All-flrunners.com Second Team below in Ava Povich and Mackenzie De Lisle. Not to be overshadowed and an all-time great middle school runner currently is Cheyenne Thomas of Red Sea Running Club/Tavares Middle School, who held the FLYRA meet 3K record briefly at 10:22 in an earlier division race win before Tomasic's race and also won the Middle School Nationals title in Kentucky with a 14:11 4K effort.
Most Improved Runner Of The Year - Jacey Lane (Lincoln Park Academy)
Jacey Lane went from running primarily in the 21 to 22-minute range in the 2021 cross country season as a freshman at Lincoln Park Academy to becoming an All-State (12th place) cross country performer as a sophomore with an 18:43 5K personal best to end her season at Apalachee Regional Park in the 2022 FHSAA 2A state race. Even with improvements over the track season running PRs of 5:38 in the 1600 and 2:28 in the 800 could not have predicted such a significant sophomore-year leap this fall for Lane to improve by well over 2 minutes on her 5K cross country times. None of the state's sub 19-minute performers made such a drastic improvement in over a time of 12 months.
Eliana Black (Cambridge Christian, Freshman)
Addison Dempsey (Cardinal Mooney, Junior)
Jillian Candelino (Bolles School, Senior)
Emma Hencock (St. Brendan, Senior)
Ashley Fitzgerald (American Heritage, Junior)
Emma O'Day (Boca Raton, Senior)
Lillee Tang (Leon, Senior)
Mackenzie De Lisle (Bishop Verot, Sophomore)
Madeleine Gear (Cambridge Christian, Junior)
Emily Knopfle (Olympia, Sophomore)
Ella Mickler (Bolles School, Senior)
Ava Povich (Evangelical Christian, Senior)
Malinda Underwood (Rockledge, Junior)
Elizabeth Williamson (Academy of Holy Names, Sophomore)
Ella Beckett (Keswick Christian, Senior)
Keswick Christian's Ella Beckett earned All-flrunners.com XC 3rd team honors after a stellar senior season of cross country including victories at the Jim Ryun FCA Invitational and Palmetto Invitational, while running her 18:23 5K PR in a fifth place finish at the North Port Invitational.
Beckett really excelled in the last half of the season with a 5th place finish in a loaded 1A girls state race (18:44) followed by even more impressive racing in the post-season. She was Florida's 4th highest finisher at the Team Southeast Regional behind only Eliana Black, Lillee Tang, & Jillian Candelino and then finished her season with a 10th place medalist finish in the silver race at the RunningLane Champs
Madison Carr (Astronaut, Sophomore)
Madison Carr was the one of the state's leading freshman performers in 2021 and the Astronaut High star was able to handle those higher second year expectations by closing her sophomore season strong with a 5K personal best of 18:16 to finish 6th for All-State in the 2A state race and earn her spot on the All-flrunners XC 3rd team.
Grace Finneran (St. Thomas Aquinas)
St. Thomas Aquinas sophomore Grace Finneran knowns how to peak when it matters and why she was selected to the All-flrunners.com XC 3rd team.
After her regular season highlights including winning the Broward County individual title this fall and finished with a time of 18:26 for 13th place in the FSU Pre-State Invite, Finneran saved her best race for the state meet in which she clocked 5K PR of 18:18 to finish 4th in the competitive 3A state race. Her state meet race as a freshman last year was also her best race and fastest time (12th, 18:59) of the season in 2021.
Layla Haynes (IMG Academy, Senior)
IMG Academy's Layla Haynes had a light race schedule this fall with 5 races in total, but impressed in all of them including a sub 18 season best time of 17:59 in a victory at the Tri-County Championships. Haynes earned All-flrunners.com XC 3rd team honors as a result of her season performances.
Haynes also finished 3rd at the North Port Invite and 6th at the FSU Pre-State Invite against many of the state's best in each major invitational race. The Barbados native just missed breaking 18 minutes in the post-season at Holloway Park in the Future Stars meet and was 78th in the gold championship race at the RunningLane Championships.
Brooke Hooper (Pine Crest, Junior)
Pine Crest junior Brooke Hooper earned All-flrunners XC 3rd team honors as one of the top performers in South Florida this past fall including consistently running between 18:11 to 18:34 in her 6 regular season races of the season.
Hooper was a close runner-up at the Spanish River Invitational, top 10 finisher in the elite race at the FSU Pre-State Invitational and 8th place All-State finisher in the 2A state race.
Olivia Fraga (Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, Senior)
Olivia Fraga was this fall's flrunners XC Invitational champion as one of her signature wins of the 2022 XC season which included many high moments such as an 18:10 5K PR performance at the FSU Pre-State Invitational as well as finishing 5th at Apalachee Regional Park later in the season in the 3A girls state race.
With the exception of 7th in the elite race at FSU Pre-State, the Our Lady of Lourdes senior Fraga finished inside the top 5 in all of her races this season. Fraga was selected to the All-flrunners.com XC 3rd Team.
Lindy White (Ponte Vedra, Junior)
All-flrunners.com 3rd team honoree and Ponte Vedra junior Lindy White was one of the very best runners out of the Jacksonville area this past fall starting fast out of the gate with an 18:23 third place finish at the Cecil Field Summer Classic behind only the likes of state champions Eliana Black and Jililan Candelino.
One of White's biggest wins of the season came in taking first place at the Katie Caples Invitational (18:29) and a top 10 finish at the FSU Pre-State Invitational (18:19). She then rolled to a 17:43 PR at her district meet. The flu bug affected much of the Ponte Vedra team at the state meet, but White still gutted up an 11th place finish in the 3A state race despite the circumstances.
Honorable Mention: Addison Boyer (South Fork), Christiana Coleman (Dillard), Elizabeth Csikai (Bolles), Avery Fronrath (The King's Academy), Simone Monaco (Winter Springs), Kate Ruona (Cardinal Mooney), Ava Wyant (The Master's Academy)