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The 3A #6 Niceville boy’s squad defeated 3A #5 Fort Walton Beach to win the Elite division of the Gulf Coast Cross Country Stampede in Pensacola. Freshmen Thomas Howell and Senior Jason Riggs both ran personal bests of 16:40 and 16:42, respectively to lead the Eagles to the victory. 3A #3 Pensacola Washington rested its top four boys.
Fort Walton Beach’s regular number two runner had an off day as the team finished third, ten points behind Jesuit High School in New Orleans. Jesuit finished runner-up for the 5A Louisiana State Championship in 2009 and is currently ranked number one out of all classes in the state of Louisiana according to LouisianaRunning.com. They were led by senior Philip Aucoin who finished third in 16:17.
The race was won overall by senior James Dwyer of Dunwoody High School in Dunwoody, Ga. in 16:00. Senior Stuart Graham of St. Paul’s Episcopal High School in Mobile finished second in 16:09.
The 3A #3 Fort Walton Beach girl’s squad was able to defend their ranking over 3A #4 Niceville to win the Elite division with a 48 second spread between their first and fifth runners. Fort Walton Beach put 5 girls under 21:00 and was led by sophomore Ivy Chastain and senior Sarah deVaux who finished in 20:04 and 20:21, respectively.
U.M.S.-Wright of Mobile finished third in the girls race, two points behind Niceville. U.M.S.-Wright returned its top five runners from its 4A Alabama State Championship in 2009 in which it placed five runners in the top six. U.M.S.-Wright also won the Track and Field State Championship in 2010 with 155 points.
Senior Darroneshia Lott of Pine Forest led the entire race and won it handedly in 18:25. The time was a 20 second PR according to the flrunners.com database. Freshmen Karisa Nelson of T.R. Miller in Brewton, Ala. finished second in 18:59.
The cross-county rivalry between Niceville and Fort Walton Beach has been heating up the past three weeks. Niceville started off the season by winning both the boy’s and girl’s races at the Panhandle XC Jamboree over Fort Walton Beach’s short-squads. Last Week Fort Walton Beach ran at full strength and returned the favor defeating Niceville in both the boy’s and girl’s races at the Wildcat Invitational. They will race each other for the fourth straight week in the Race of Champions at the flrunners.com Invitational 11.
Washington’s boy’s team had a promising day from their short squad. “The only thing stopping this group from securing the Top spot is a #1 punch and a stronger #5,” said 3A boy’s pollster David Gardner in the latest rankings. Harrison Edwards and Andre Bordelon, Washingtons number five and six runners, improved roughly thirty seconds on their times from last week to finish in 17:03 and 17:33, respectively.
Pace High School won the girls Varsity division in a tie-breaker with Pelham. Cottage Hill Christian won the boys Varsity division over Spanish Fort.
1,049 high school runners competed at the Escambia County Equestrian Center. The meet was sanctioned by six high school state sports associations: Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.