The 2014 cross country season kicks off this weekend and there will be no shortage of runners at Wickham Park in Melbourne. The Wickham Park Jamboree hosted by Holy Trinity will welcome in nearly 600 runners and more than two dozen teams. The event kicks off with the girls at 7:30 a.m. followed by the boys. Flrunners.com will be on scene with photos, results, and a complete recap of all the action!
On the girl's side their are several story lines, but the most intriguing will be which Julie Wollrath shows up? Wollrath, sat out the 2014 track season opting to play lacrosse instead
. She told us that she wanted to re-spark her passion for the sport and take some time off. How much running occured during that period remains to be seen. The three time 1A Cross Country Finals state champion transferred to Melbourne High School for her senior year and will make her debut for the Bulldogs at the meet hosted by her former school. Wollrath has won this event the past three years, dating back to 2011, and was third in 2010. All four times have been under nineteen minutes.
Wollrath's departure from 1A opens the door for several runners to take the title including Emily Chapman. The home-schooled senior, who runs for Brevard HEAT, was third last year at this meet. She finished 6th at the 1A Cross Country Finals where she posted a time of 18:38.63. Chapman was second in the 3,200m at the state track meet with a mark of 11:05.70. In a XC Spotlight feature, she told us her training has been going great, logging nearly 500 miles, by summer's end, and adding that although it may not be her most mileage, it's definitely been her most intensive summer. She wants to break 18 minutes this season as well as bring home a state title. This meet could be the start of a very special season.
In addition to Wollrath and Chapman, the rest of the top seven return for a rematch in 2014. Holy Trinity's Shelby Smith, Samantha Folio, and Maleia Storum were second, fourth, and fifth respectively. For Coach Butler and the home team it will be a chance to see where they are at early in the season as they prepare for an 8th title in school history. Others to watch include sophomore Hannah Flemming of TItusville and senior Bethany Hardcastle of South Fork. Hardcastle was the 3A Region 4 champion last year and finished 26th at the 3A Cross Country Finals.
The boy's race features Brandon Marquez, but the Timber Creek junior won't be wearing a Wolves jersey. His team is not entered in this meet (therefore not on the virtual meet). Marquez's father told flrunners.com in a recent email that his son, who ran unattached during the track season, will do the same this fall. Michael Nazareth who also ran for Timber Creek will be running unattached as well with Marquez. Marquez was second at the 4A Cross Country Finals as a freshman and third as a sophomore, and would have been a title contender once again this year. However, due to circumstances with the existing coaching staff as well as other issues, and not competing for the team, he will not have that opportunity. Saturday he will make his season debut and look for his first win of the season. Look for him to go out strong and if anyone wants to run with him, he will welcome the challenge.
Melbourne senior Garrett Camps, only in his second year running, has the fastest personal best in the group entered. At the state meet he shocked many when he went 15:36.04 coming in 9th place then proved his natural ability when he went 15:29.00 and placed 35th at the Foot Locker South Regional. If anyone can stay with Marquez, it will be Camps. There is a lot of talk about the talent in 3A and if I had to pick a runner who is going under the radar and could surprise some folks in November it would be the Bulldog harrier. Holy Trinity's Andrew Cacciatore, the 1A runner-up, won here in 2013 with a time of 16:13.98. He will be in the mix with that top group along with teammate Trevor Kattenberg (4th in 2013, 9th in 2012). Titusville sophomore Mason Jones was sixth last year and is also a contender. Look for Cacciatore, Kattenberg, and the rest of the Holy Trinity boys to finish strong and give the Tigers a sweep of the team titles. Bishop Kenny and Titusville are respective favorites in their region and should battle for second and third.