Jason's 2011 XC State Meet Predictions

State Meet Coverage Index & Info



Bryce Seymour is under-rated in my opinion and I think that she will really give Julie a run for her money. We should see a really tight pack of the top 6+ stick together for the first mile. I'd expect that as they approach the grandstands around the halfway point we will see Greenleaf start to peel off. Olinger will probably hang out a bit longer, but the top four will likely get pretty solid separation as they round the corner in the infield before two miles.
At that point, it's all guts and strength. If Kurgatt has managed to hang on to them by the time they exit the infield it could get really interesting. She's got the best foot speed out of this group (2:14 800)... it's just going to be a question of how much it takes out of her just trying to keep contact. I'd be really surprised if she tries to lead, much more likely that she and Candiano will just draft and try to hang with Seymour or Wollrath pushing the pace (probably Seymour early and Wollrath taking over during the second mile).
Team battle between the top three is going to be close. I think Holy Trinity will step it up and make it really interesting, but in the end the 1-5 depth of Oak Hall will secure them the win.
1) Julie Wollrath
2) Bryce Seymour
3) Stefanie Kurgatt
4) Sarah Candiano
5) Brittney Olinger
6) Katelyn Greenleaf
7) Daniella Van Liere
8) Adair Lyden
9) Kelly Fahey
10)  Mallory White
1) Oak Hall
2) Holy Trinity
3) Providence
4) Maclay
5) Community School of Naples


With all due respect to everyone else, Daniel Moore is in a class by himself. Some of my less experienced bretheren I've heard talking about how Moore hasn't run fast since Great American--so what. Holy Trinity clearly took a low key approach to the season since then and is just laying the foundation for something big. If it weren't for the fact that the 1A Boys race starts at 10:30 AM, I think he could have the fastest time of the day and even challenge course record territory. As it is I think he'll be closer to 15:Teens. He should have at least 20 seconds gap to second.
Westlake has struggled recently, but hopefully he'll be back to form this weekend and will challenge Gousse/Salas/Mutz for second. It should be Gousse in my opinion, edging toward 15:30 even with the heat.
I think we'll see Holy Trinity have the lowest point total of any team this Saturday. Again, I think the fact that they've stepped back and been paying the dues all season with training... they'll be ready to bust out with something big. So I think we'll see their top five in the top 15 and possibly at least three in the top ten if not four. Six and seven will not be far behind and probably ahead of anyone else's five.
Trinity Prep will step it up and war with PKY for second, but I think the tradition, experience and 1-2 punch of TP wins out. Goldberg should be around 15th so that will help also. PKY is really strong up front, but depth questions is what leans it slightly to Trinity Prep.
1) Daniel Moore
2) Ryan Gousse
3) Garret Westlake
4) Daniel Salas
5) Mark Mutz
6) Joey Castagnaro
7) Jordan Brown
8) Tristan Kattenberg
9) Derek Bolser
10) Alex Brown
1) Holy Trinity
2) Trinity Prep
3) PK Yonge
4) Maclay
5) Circle Christian


I think the top five all believe they can win a state championship. And that will mean for a great two mile race. Shelby though is just another step above and should be able to hold it down that last mile going away.
Of course, Daesha will lead the first 800-1200 and they should let her do so. I was very impressed by Daesha at Pre-State for the simple fact that even after that ridiculous opening pace, she held on to the leaders and finished high. I don't know too many others who can do that, and I hope the others will let her go and not try to go with her.
Team battle is close... I think Cocoa Beach can win it. Bolles is all about the pack power, but with 1 point from Shelb... if 2-4 can get a tight pack and they can get five to step up just a bit then they can overcome that. American Heritage is looking good and benefits from a strong 1-2 punch that I think will both be top ten.
1) Shelby Davidson
2) Kari Grippo
3) Daesha Rogers
4) Ashley Heitling
5) Joanna McCoy
6) Mackenzie Wilson
7) Savanna Gornisiewicz
8) Colleen Doherty
9) Rachelle Alexander
10) Lily Arnold
1) Cocoa Beach
2) Bolles
3) American Heritage
4) Bishop Kenny
5) Carrollton


Bert will repeat, but it won't be as easy as it was last year. Ransom has come a long way in the depth department. In last year's interview after XC State they were really excited about this season. Now I see why. BK will make it close, but I think Ransom by 15 or so. I'm expecting Immokalee to surprise some people.
1) Bert Irigoyen
2) Nicholas Palmero
3) Brian Sharp
4) Alex Main
5) Billy Scola
6) Nick Papa
7) Michael Barr
8) Jean Deceus
9) Patrick Maher
10) Dillon Hodge
1) Ransom Everglades
2) Bishop Kenny
3) Immokalee
4) Berkely Prep
5) Nature Coast


This race is just sick. Like wow!
Look at it this way: there are two former state cross country champs (Smith, Thomas) in this race and I'm picking neither of them to win. Lily Williams won the 1600 and 3200 in track and I'm not picking her. Vanessa Valetine would have had state championships of her own if not for pesky Bridget Blake. Blaney has been tearing it up lately (so has Shah) and was third place two years ago as a freshman. The top eight have all gone under 18 minutes this season. Sick.
Lily's been having an incredible season this year and put up the fastest time in the state this year with a course record 17:29 at Jesse Owens Classic in Alabama. She is the defending 3A Champ from track in the 1600 and 3200. Top returner (second overall) in this race last year. By any definition, she could definitely be considered the favorite.
BUT... Olivia Ortiz. She has taken her game to another level this season and since October she has not been beaten. She has raced everyone in this race this season (except Valentine) and won out including big wins at flrunners and Prestate. So she has earned status as the favorite, but with this field it's anything but a given.
Defending 2A State Champ, Kacy Smith has struggled off and on this year but I think for the most part she's shown up at some of the big meets. Flrunners wasn't her best meet ever, but it wasn't terrible. I thought she looked great at Pre-State. And she was within six seconds of Olivia at region. I think we see a big ferocious preformance like we're used to. At Pre-State she kicked herself afterwards for letting Williams and Ortiz go at two miles and then waiting too long to try to close it back up. So I doubt she'll make that same mistake again. But... all three have sub-5 1600 speed so that could get really fun.
Vanessa Valentine is just awesome and is very consistent, never disappointing in big races. She showed her strength with a big course record at Mount Dora to start the year. She slid through district and region, putting up huge times all by herself. Shockingly, she still doesn't have a state championship to her name... just a bunch of runner-up and third place finishers in track and cross. She is a senior and hungry for the taste of gold. It would take a huge upset, but she is so strong.
2009 3A state champ Carly Thomas, Ivy Chastain, Rachel Givens, and Marsel Mosely have been tearing it up in their own right up in the Panhandle. Nikita Shah from home team Wiregrass Ranch has come on huge lately by cutting a minute off of her personal best in the last few weeks. Rachel Petrik (Ft. Myers) was 12th yast year and could be top ten. You have Katy G. Solis and Bethany Jenkins the 2-3 from Estero. And then Devin McDermott and Kristin Zarrella at those same positions for Lakewood Ranch--all have gone sub 18:30 in the past. Caroline Barlow of Gulf Coast, Kaitlin Rodriguez of Creekside, Elizabeth Harper of Merritt Island, Alex Irwin of Osceola... I mean really on and on... this classification is so deep it blows your mind.
Team-wise amazingly Chiles and Estero are TIED with 100 points in the virtual meet. They really match up so tightly and are both national ranking worthy, even though only Estero has been nationally ranked this season. Chiles is better 1-2-3 by a few points, but edge to Estero based on their depth. They are seven-deep and their five-six are finishing side by side basically every week, which means they get a little extra push points for Chiles #5 and possibly on a good day might even get 5-6 under Chiles #4 which would be huge. That's what happened at Pre-State.
Creekside and/or Ft. Walton Beach could easily potentially unseat Lakewood Ranch. That's something I wouldn't have thought possible before the season--thought they'd be right with Chiles/Estero--but it hasn't been the ideal season for the Ranch. However, I am betting they will pull it together for the big meet. Four through seven have been showing some good signs of life lately and this team has such good chemistry that I think they'll come through Saturday.
1) Olivia Ortiz
2) Lily Williams
3) Kacy Smith
4) Vanessa Valetine
5) Anne-Marie Blaney
6) Carly Thomas
7) Nikita Shah
8) Ivy Chastain
9) Bethany Jekins
10) Rachel Givens
1) Estero
2) Chiles
3) Lakewood Ranch
4) Creekside
5) Ft. Walton Beach


Elliot Clemente has come down a bit off of the pedestal we had him on at the beginning of the season, when we thought he was basically immortal. However, he is still one of the top three in the state with Moore and Arroyo... really on another level from everyone else in the state. Neither of those guys are in this classification so it is his to lose.
Now let's not take away from the others in this deep race. Max del Monte has been a little bit out of character this season. However, from day one of the season Coach Strack made clear they were playing the long game this year. They even sat him out of early races. So they're of the philosophy that the rest of the season is irrelevant. Will that pay off big this weekend? We'll see! He has run 15:02 before so...
Carlos Miranda, on the other hand, has burst on to the scene where little outside of Southwest Florida expected him to. He has torn it up and Pre-State was a huge breakthrough. So look for him to be right in the thick of things.
I think those three will be out front with a gap to the next group in the 15:35-15:50 range including Howell, Reynolds, Lopez, Rojas and whoever else might have a breakthrough day.
For the team battle, I think Belen Jesuit and Ft. Walton Beach are close to a lock for 1-2. After that it's totally fuzzy because there are about six teams that look to have a chance to shuffle around 3rd-9th. Depth is going to be the biggest liability for all of those, so I think more than anything it's going to be a question of 1-5 splits making the difference. I am feeling the Green Wave of Ft. Myers have the momentum to push on to the podium. Leader Ace Brown has been running great and the team handled Estero at region and had about a 50 second gap there. Ace could creep into the top ten and maybe get the five man across not too far past 50th... that would be a solid day and probably good enough for third.
1) Elliot Clemente
2) Max del Monte
3) Carlos Miranda
4) Thomas Howell
5) Mac Reynolds
6) Avery Lopez
7) Aaron Rojas
8) Jacob Kotick
9) Nicholas Morken
10) Christian Taylor Buzzard
1) Belen Jesuit
2) Ft. Walton Beach
3) Ft. Myers
4) Bartram Trail
5) Washington


Ignoring the slow start at UF Mountain Dew (coming off injury), Bridge Blake has only lost once race this year. She finished second at flrunners to Olivia Ortiz. She won a big meet in Alabama (SouthEast XC Showdown) and handed it to starlets like Julie Wollrath, Vanessa Valentine, and Shelby Davidson. This is her title and she could potentially have the fastest time on the day... depending on how strategic the 3A race goes.
To me the two and three picks are pretty solid. Mary Kate Ponder is rock solid consistent. I'm pretty sure she's never lost to any of these other top contenders in the race (besides Blake). Freshman Emily Headley of Olympia, meanwhile, has been having a tremendous year--minus the one bip at Prestate--and finished second behind Blake at district and region. Second and third seem like theirs.
It's definitely tight after that. I was impressed by Amy Ankli's guts at Pre-State, pushing up with the best of the best and holding on for quite a while. Alex Payne of St. Thomas Aquinas, I believe, is saving her best for last. My instincts tell me she'll break out. Alex Eaton could be top five potentially, but she has struggled this year. But things are really thick between 18:30-19:00 and the deck could be shuffled so many ways in those 6th-20th positions.
The top four teams are all really REALLY good and any of them have a shot to win. The top three are all really similar. They are all very pack oriented without a sure-bet top five type finisher (though they have #1s who potentially could, but it would take a big day).
Plant has been running the best these last couple of weeks and I'm picking them, but it's really narrow. They have killer 1-7 depth whereby their #7 could potentially be better than the next team's five. And it would mean an awful lot to this storied program to get its 10th state championship for Coach Roy Harrison.
St. Thomas Aquinas is almost identical and handed Plant a loss at Pre-State... beating everyone but Estero and Chiles. That scenario could certainly play out again. I just feel like *lately* Plant has looked just a bit stronger. However, I think Alex Payne though is going to surprise and be the highest finisher out of these three similar teams (Ferguson, Plant, Aquinas).
Speaking of "lately"... then there's Ferguson. In the middle of the season their pack was just off the hook. Something like 25 seconds 1-7... ridiculous. They have struggled to be as cohesive these past few weeks. Lauren Gonzalez is a likely single-digit scorer and if they can stay within 30 or even 40 seconds of her there could be an upset.
Finally, Olympia... Anything is possible. They had a decent day at Region. #5 runner Megan Murphy has come a lot way and that has vital for them to even have the outside shot role that they have now. To potentially contend they'll need Campo back up with Headley and PRs from everyone. It could happen if they get 1-4 in the top let's say 15 or 20 and then a PR from #5. Most likely though, they are going to be a solid pick for the podium, picking off which ever team of those three is not on their absolute A Game.
Fifth place... Hagerty, Lourdes, Dr. Phillips, Spruce Creek, Boone, Riverview... really take your pick. I'm going Hagerty after they left Olympia counting the point differential on two hands at the region of death.
1) Bridget Blake
2) Mary Kate Ponder
3) Emily Headley
4) Amy Ankli
5) Alex Payne
6) Alex Eaton
7) Kaitlyn Campo
8) Lauren Gonzalez 
9) Heather Chase
10) Julie Rodriguez
1) Plant
2) St. Thomas Aquinas
3) Ferguson
4) Olympia
5) Hagerty


Andres Arroyo, Chris Godwin, and Billy Anguish went 1-2-3 at the Region of Death and that is a very likely scenario on Saturday as well. I'm going with Billy the Kid to notch one up. I have no particular reason for that reversal and Godwin's gotten him 3/4 times this year. But I'll take like the 4:15 speed tomorrow over the 9:34 3200.
The Babinec-Christenberry Tampa Bay rivalry thing is great... so I'm looking forward to seeing that play out too and I think they'll push up in the top five. Mitchell Moore continues to get better and better.
I am predicting upset with Columbus over Colonial. We'll see how that goes. The virtual meet puts it pretty squarely with Colonial. And honestly--nothing against Columbus--but I'm rooting for Colonial simply because of the great story of the first state championship ever. I really want it for them this weekend!
But I really just have this itching feeling that Columbus is going to turn up huge. I'm picking them to have three in the top ten, which is kind of radical. I usually feel like they've been hitting every week hard all year which gives me pause going into the state meet if they will be all burnt up, but think they've been laying relatively low this season. Playing it cool and regrouping. That's my take. So I think we'll see the training wheels off and be something special in this 1-2 battle. I could be completely wrong though--hah!
For Colonial, the key is going to be how tight the 2-5 split is. For Columbus it's all about executing up front with the top three and then tightening 4-5 gap substantially.
After that, Plant is a pretty solid bet for third place (or even second if Columbus doesn't peak as well as I think they will). So I would write those three in ink for the podium positions.  It's very dicey after that: Winter Park doing very well lately and peaking right, John I. Leonard knocking off Aquinas and coming on strong, Olympia boys trying to step it up to match their girls (doing well at it), Aquinas kind of a question mark, Seminole being picked fifth by our pollster, Mandarin and Spruce Creek on the fringe. That top ten could go a lot of ways with a few more teams like upstart Lyman hoping to break in if anyone stumbles.
1) Andres Arroyo
2) Billy Anguish
3) Chris Godwin
4) Michael Babinec
5) Thomas Christenberry
6) Manny Garcia
7) Daniel Fernandez
8) Mitchell Moore
9) Jacob Hudak
10) Kenny Castro
1) Columbus
2) Colonial
3) Plant
4) Winter Park
5) Olympia