Wedgefield Golf Course in Orlando played host to the East River XC Meet on Tuesday. Many Orlando area squads used the second regular season meet of the season to rest some of the "A squads" and develop some of their upcoming junior varsity talent.
However, that didn't prevent two varsity runners from winning: Haley Slocum in 22:01.52 (that's her out front at the start) and Frankie Kuchera in 17:42.27. Both are from Bishop Moore. The BM girls won the team competition with 26 points (1-4-6-7-8-16-17); the Timber Creek team won the Boys race with 45 points (3-6-8-11-17-19-38), to BM's 49 (1-9-12-13-14-15-16).
Photo Album by Ralph Epifanio (281 photos)
Meet Summary Article
BY RALPH EPIFANIO
After a few years of experience, almost every runner will have a golf course story to tell. For these young runners, mostly JV athletes, theirs came early in their career. Due to the kindness of GM Ken Genova, Wedgefield Golf Course closed the front nine so that 85 girls and 92 boys could compete on a scenic, well-maintained course, one whose memory will no doubt stay with them for quite a while.
Of course, the stories remembered by Bishop Moore’s Haley Slocum and Frank Kucera will probably have a theme song, a list of credits, and (hopefully) a sequel or two.
“It was a good course,” Haley surmised, “pretty much flat. It was fairly wide, so we were given the option of running over, or around the hills.”
Given the lead she had—she was already in front after 100 feet--Hayley could have added a loop around the driving range and still won, had she so chosen. Her winning time, 22:01.52, looked a lot faster in practice than on paper. She won by 250 meters. (Second and third went to Autumn Bartlett and Ashley Cole of University, in a close 22:40.04 to 22:40.31, respectively.)
“I kind of wanted to work on pace today,” Haley explained, “I have a race on Saturday.”
But no days off.
“We practice in the morning. This is my only workout today, but I’ll be up early tomorrow morning. I’m not looking forward to it.”
What she is looking forward to is lowering her PR—which is currently a 20:17.60, run at the Hagerty Invitational last October 23rd —by a little over a minute.
“I’m really looking to break the school record this year. I believe it is 19:04 (19:03.60), by Holly Page (run at the same Hagerty Meet as Haley’s). She graduated, and runs for Wyoming now.”
Like Haley, Frankie Kucera is also a junior at Bishop Moore, and he, too, quickly built a commanding lead in the meet’s second race, one which he entered at the last moment.
“I wasn’t going to run, but then my coaches said it was okay. The girls went over to the timing people and asked if we could get more people in, and they said yes.”
University’s Elijah Silas (second in 17:53.02), the only other sub-18 finisher, kept steady pressure on Kucera throughout the race, but was unable to close a ten-second gap, no matter how he tried.
“Normally, in a bigger (more competitive) race, you have more people to run with,” Kucera related. “It’s hard to run alone, becoming all mental at that point.”
Kucera passed the finish clock in 17:42.27; not exactly shabby, all things considered. It was only 11 seconds shy of his PR, set—guess where?—at that same October 23rd, 2010 Hagerty Invitational.
The scoring in both Boys and Girls team races was settled between Bishop Moore, University (Orlando), and Timber Creek.
In the Girls Race, Bishop Moore won over University, 26 (1-4-6-7-8-16-17) to 51 (2-3-11-12-23-26-28), and Timber Creek was third with 63 points (5-10-13-15-20-24-25). In the Boys Race, that order was reshuffled: Timber Creek placed three runners in the top ten to win by four (45 points: 3-6-8-11-17-19-38), Moore was second with 49 points (1-9-12-13-14-15-16), and University was third with 99 points (2-4-21-23-49-52-53).
In describing their Girls win, Bishop Moore coach Christine Richardsville saw it as a good mid-week opportunity.
“I told them to run strong and not overdo it. Push each other, run strong, but at 90%. We have a big meet in Deland on Saturday.
“This was a workout for our JV girls. I expected their times to be faster, but we are running through this, and have practice tomorrow, as usual—a long run,—and they’re expected to perform well.”
And that pretty much describes the theme for what could be called a late summer night’s run, one that added a welcome interruption in the daily routine for those many runners who train before school.
Footnotes: The Girls Race was originally scheduled to go off at five, but the late arrival of one team forced meet management to push that (and the Boys Race) back by 45 minutes. Not only were 500 people forced to wait, but that in turn resulted in (at least) 178 families delaying dinner, and 178 high school kids doing their homework very, very late that night. (Keep in mind that these kids may get up as early as 4:30 AM for XC practice, and then start another long school day.) The reason for all this, as related to me, was that a school transportation official made the decision to have that one team wait until the bus driver had dropped off a busload of junior high students before picking up the XC team. Can anyone really be so insensitive?