FSU Pre-State Invitational: Andres Arroyo, Kacy Smith Rise to Occassion

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Saturday Highlights

Boys "Gold" Elite: Andres Arroyo Leads the Way

Summary By Jason Byrne

Andres Arroyo had a disappointing week last week. After perhaps going out a little too intense the first couple of miles against the blazing top two runners, the then nationally ranked star fell back to a disappointing 23rd place and 15:30. This week he was out for some redemption. Unfortunately, flrunners.com Invitational ROC Champion Carlos Miranda was not in this race... so we still can't say definitively who is the top male athlete in the state. Perhaps at state when they're on the same course on the same day (though not the same race) we'll be able to answer that question... or perhaps at Foot Locker South!

But as for today, it was Andres Arroyo's day to shine. Colonial senior Arroyo wasted no time making a statement against the field that represented a plurality of the top runners in Florida, with a few out of state invaders from Georgia. He got out quickly through the first mile in 4:36 and only Avery Lopez (Belen Jesuit) and Tyler Bennett (Ft. Myers) even attempted to keep an eye on him. Through the 2K split Andres was around 5:32, with Lopez at 5:37 and Bennett at 5:41. The chase pack was another eight seconds behind Bennett.

By the second mile, Arroyo had gapped Lopez and Bennet by 10 seconds going through that set of mats in 9:42 and 9:52 respectively, with the chase pack of eight runners right around ten flat.

Arroyo and Bennett held on to that pace, as Andres sailed in at 15:19 with Bennett 13 seconds back in second place with a 15:32. The last mile though was a little hard on Lopez's tired legs and he came back to the chasers, finishing in fifth place with 15:43. The duo of junior best friends from Niceville, Nicholas Morken and Thomas Howell, crept into third in fourth at 15:35 each. Arroyo and Bennett both found themselves on the under side of the old course record set back in 2009 by Matt Mizereck of 15:34.27.

Despite having not yet put it all together in one race yet--Michael Margoulas had an off performance at FLR and Andres Fernandez was a bit off this week--Belen Jesuit has cemented the fact that they are indeed hands down the top team in Florida and deserving of national ranking consideration. They won easily with 100 points and a 16:09 team average over Norcross GA. The Georgians are ranked fourth overall in that state; today they scored 159 and 16:23 team average.

Colonial and Holy Trinity went head to head last week at Great American. The teams finished disappointing 16th place for Colonial and 31st place--dead last in the INTENSELY competitive elite race--for Holy Trinity last week. Colonial put up a solid race with nearly an identical team average as last week. But boy did Holy Trinity ever step it up! Behind a great 1-2 of Alex Brown and Tristan Kattenberg (10th/15:53 and 12th/15:55, respectively), they put their top five under 17 minutes for a 16:24 team average and 170 points. Colonial had a slightly better average of 16:19... but it was all tied up through five at 170. The Grenediers of Colonial broke the tie on their sixth runner to take third, but what a great team battle.

With Bennett having another great day and Ace Brown close behind (15:46, 6th place), things looked good for Ft. Myers up front. In fact, they were actually beating Belen 30-32 through three runners. But the Green Wave couldn't quite close the deal with too many points on the back end, slipping to a fifth place 205 points on a 16:25 team average. However, with their fifth man where he ran last week, the swing would have been good for 60 points and propelled them into second place. So don't count your chickens yet! They'll be back!

Either by design or by destiny Ft. Walton Beach was no where to be found up front. 29 runners crossed the finish line before their first chip registered on the mat. And then another and another and... Their top four came in one after another in 30-32-33-34 between 16:24 and 16:28. Trey LaNasa was first this week. If they get a fifth to step forward, they might just have a claim at the second best team in the state. They put their five through eight between 17:15 and 17:30, very respectably, to take sixth place with 208 points... just three beyind Ft. Mers.

George Steinbrenner may have been the surprise of the day though, just given the fact that we haven't see much of them in a bit meet this year. They were impressive with 230 points--beating out Columbus by three, as well as tough Sunset and Plant teams--for seventh place and a 16:39 team average. They did so on solid depth with a 58 second 1-5 split behind Matt Magee's 18th place 16:05. And they can go faster. They had a great track season and are off of their personal bests. Look for this team to challenge Belen, Ft. Myers, and Ft. Walton Beach for the very tough 3A podium.

Video Interview with Andres Arroyo

Boys Elite Race Highlights

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Girls "Gold" Elite: Kacy Smith, Estero Pull Away

Summary By Jason Byrne

Through the mile mark and past 2K, the girls stayed bunched tightly.  Eight girls came through the 2K around 6:35 including Kacy Smith, Emily Edwards, Annie Kelly (Milton GA), Bryce Seymour, Julie Wollrath, Katherine Yost (Norcross GA), Sarah Candiano, and Katy Solis. Sarah Day and Emily Headley were just behind, with Alexa Cruz and Julia Rodriguez heading up a large chase pack about 12 seconds behind the leaders. At this point in the race  Nikitah Shah of Wiregrass Ranch, last week's flrunners ROC runner-up, was really laying off the accelerator and sitting well back in the chase pack looking on about 20 seconds behind the leaders--a mountain of time that early on in the race.

Through two miles, Kacy had begun to open a gap with a 11:23 two mile split, four seconds in front of Edwards, Seymour, Wollrath, Candiano, Yost, and Kelly.

Smith sailed in for an 18:06 victory, two seconds off of her season best time from last week's flrunners.com Invitational--but with a much better finishing place this week!

Edwards held off her pursuers to get a second place showing this week, coming off the FLR ROC victory, with an 18:12. In all 17 girls were in the 18-minute range including Georgians Annie Kelly (3rd, 18:13) and Katherine Yost (6th, 18:16). Bryce Seymour of Hagerty finished fourth in 18:14 with sophomore Julie Wollrath in fifth place with an 18:14.

Freshman Alexa Cruz from St. Thomas Aquinas paced herself well, letting the lead pack go early, and came in an impressive seventh place 18:18, ahead of Sarah Candiano's 8th place 18:25.

Estero did end up pulling out the team title, but not without a fight! And it wasn't from the Plant High team that many expected. Not that St. Thomas Aquinas is a darkhorse or under anyone's radar by any means, both coming in they were looking like they'd be the third place team but instead took Estero down to the wire. The teams must have been counting on fingers and toes as it came down to just three points with Estero winning 100-103. It was the 1:06 two-to-five split that kept STA close, but freshman Daley Cline of Estero came in with a 19:55 to maintain the victory.

Honorable mention in the national rankings, some thought coming in Plant might be a surprise challenge to Estero... coming within an eyelash a few weeks ago at North Port. Instead they came in a distant third with 184 points and a 19:39 team average. But don't read too much into it, Plant #2 runner Scarlett Fox dropped out of the race around the two mile mark. The senior has an 18:47 personal best and was hanging in about 20th at the time. If she hangs tough and finishes around that position, Plant still takes third but it's a whole heckuva lot closer.

Interview with Kacy Smith

Girls Elite Race Highlights

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Boys "Silver" Invitational

Adbdin Fator of Sickles took the same strategy that worked for him at last weeks flrunners Large School race: he waited. He let the leaders take a 15 second lead on him through the mile mark and at 2K he had a good 30 runners ahead of him in the pack. And then he went to work, gradually picking them off one at a time. Crossing the two mile chip mat he sat in seventh place, near the back of the lead pack in 10:27, three seconds behind Trevor Touchton, the leader at the time. A half mile later, he had picked off all but Tim O'Loughlin of Tampa Jesuit and Lars Benner of Newsome. His surge broke him free and broke many in the pack.

O'Loughlin and Benner did well to hang on, with Fator winning in 16:14 followed by O'Loughlin (16:16) and Benner (16:19). It is going to be really great to eventually see what Fator can do against the top dogs and when he will break a big one into the 15 range.

Alexander Haugen led St. Thomas Aquinas was the team teamp with a 128-182 advantage over Olympia, with O'Loughlin's Tampa Jesuit in third place 202 points. 17:04 was the team average for STA.

Boys Invitational Race Video

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Girls "Silver" Invitational

Ocala Vanguard sophomore Elizabeth Mulford left little doubt. She continued her impressive season with a dominating win. She took the lead out early and despite a little bit of company from Ellyn Snider of Spanish River through 2K, by two miles she had gapped her by 21 seconds and by six more seconds over the next half mile. When all was said and done Mulford crossed the line in a 19:11 victory, in front of second place Jessica Fletcher of Ridgeview's 19:38 and her early shadow Snider held on for 19:43 third place.

Mulford was competing solo in this race, with the rest of her team competing later in the day in the Large School Bronze division. No word on Mulford's Ocala Vanguard sophomore partner-in-crime Audrey Carpenter. The two opened the season well by going 1-2 in at Lecanto and Bob Hans. But Carpenter has not raced since that time. Hope she's okay and we see the soph duo return to action together by the post season.

Nease grabbed a tight team battle over The First Academy (Orlando) with 180 points to 184 points and a 21:09 vs 21:14 top five average.

Girls Invitational Race Video

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Boys "Bronze" Large School

After letting Buchholz sophomore John Dougherty do the work early, senior Harrison Edwards of Pensacola Washington took over with a half mile to go. He surged past Dougherty to kick it in for a 16:42 victory, carrying his teammate, junior Mark Robertson, with him. Robertson took second in 16:51 with Dougherty holding on for third in 16:55.

It was the power of the pack though leading Seminole to victory, despite putting no one in the top ten. The first runner, Josh Luker, came by in 14th place with 17:35 and they were all done scoring by the 23rd place 18:04 of Sam Weller. That got them a 94-111 victory over Buchholz.

Boys Large School Race Video

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Girls "Bronze" Large School

Leon's Autumn Wable took her time moving through the pack. The senior ran through the mile 12 seconds behind the leaders. By two miles Sara Steele of Choctaw was the definitive leader with a 13:07 split, as all by Wable and Olivia Suski of Seminole had been broken by the pace and fallen about 30 seconds behind the leader. Wable pulled even with Steele with a half mile to go and then laid down the hammer by pulling 13 seconds ahead over the final stretch. She took home the witn with a 20:30 over Steele's 20:43 and Suski's 21:14.

But starting with the sophomore Suski and going 3-9-14-15-17-(21)-(34), Seminole pulled out the eight point victory over Timber Creek 58-66. Creek for its part had an impressive 44 second 1-5 split.

Girls Large School Race Video

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Boys "Platinum" Small School

Troy Clark of Mount Dora Bible went out hard and never came back to them. He took it through the mile with about a 12 second lead over Griffith Rutherford of North Florida Christian and the top four never changed from there. By two miles the MDB junior led a twenty second lead, going through that split in 10:26. He cruised on in for a 16:46 victory, though Rutherford and Travis Covert of Maclay made it interesting as the finished within ten seconds of the leader. Second place and 16:53 for the NFC juniro and 16:56 for the senior from Maclay.

Covert's Maclay were tops on the team standings with a huge 50 point victory behind an impressive top five that went 17:40 average and 3-5-12-16-17. Rockledge was second with 124 points.

Boys Small School Race Video

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Girls "Platinum" Small School

I guess they wanted to see what they could do as a complete team this week. Last week at FLR 13 Pine Crest's top two runners, Julia Montgomery and Ella Wurth, ran apart from the team by competing in the Race of Champions. The rest of the team competed in the Unseeded A division. Frankly, with the team competing as a whole unit they probably should have been in the Invitational division (which is where I would have seeded them at FLR), but I digress.

Montgomery is a freshman senstation who has burst on to the scene this year by pulling off some big upsets early on, before finishing finishing an astounding third place 17:52 in the ROC last week. Wurth last week finished 19:33 in the ROC.

But back to this week... Montgomery led this thing from the gun and no one--her teammate included--dared try to answer her pace. The freshman went through two miles in 11:52 with Wurth, the senior, well behind in 12:36. Wurth herself had a wenty second lead over third place Kristin Sweeney at that point. That order did not change during the course of the 5,000 meters. Montgomery wins in 18:58, followed by Wurth at 20:09, and Sweeney at 20:28.

And that was really all she wrote. To follow the 1-2 punch, Pine Crest put their top five in before anyone else crossed four (and before all but Maclay crossed three!). They win with just 39 points and a 20:48 team average: 1-2-9-13-14. Maclay's top three looked relaly good, putting them all in the top ten.  They struggled a little with depth but that threesome was enough to keep Episcopal at bay 128 to 139 for second.

Girls Small School Race Video

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Boys "Brave" JV

No surprises here; Belen Belen... STA, Ft. Walton... Belen Belen Belen Belen Belen. Junior Alex Issac led the Wolverines with an impressive 17:16 to win the JV division.  He was followed by Bruno Sayas, the Belen freshman in 17:38.

St. Thomas freshman Yohance Haynes got into the action with a third place 17:48. I knew I knew that name... looked it up... Haynes had an impressive career with his specialy in the 1500m/1600m being a mainstay for him on the medal stand of the FLYRA middle school circuit hte last few years.

Belen Jesuit scored just 21 points, going 1-2-5-6-7-(8)-(9) with a 17:51 that is enviable for most varsity teams in the state. Ft. Walton Beach was impressive as well with an 18:18 team average and 52 points, with St. Thomas Aquinas looking good as well with 87 points and an 18:42 average.


Girls "Brave" JV

Caitlyn Collier of Bolles won easily with a 22:03 for the eighth grader. Hope to see her at FLYRA XC State if she doesn't make the varsity team by then!  Norcross GA sophomore Megan Niederhauser was next in 22:39, followed by Katie Green of Bolles in 22:43.

Bolles looked good with the Collier-Green duo, but with a fierce pack from Bishop Kenny shoving all seven in the top 20 and five in the top 11... lights out. The 1-5 average was just 28 seconds for 37 points, 22:58 team average, and the trophy. Bolles was second place with 60 points, which was 20 points better than Norcross.


Friday Highlights

College Men

Evans Kiraw of Embry-Riddle did what he's been doing all year: winning. He took the 8K title with relative ease in 24:40. With some people sitting from various teams, FSU won 64-80 over FAMU.

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College Women

Stephanie Ledgerwood of Southern Miss won the 6K title in 21:01, with Immokalee alum and University of Jacksonville senior Joane Pierre in second place with 21:10.

The FSU ladies took a restrained win with 72 points, over second place University of Tampa's 101.

College Women Race Video

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