Saturday, October 31, 2009

Muddy at Maclay

It's a meet with an identity crisis. This year it was called the "city championship," an odd name for an event that included teams from schools as far flung as Marianna, which isn't even in the same time zone as Tallahassee. A couple of years ago the same meet was billed as the "Big Bend Championship," which was somewhat more accurate, but the name didn't last. The course has always been around the Maclay School campus, but changes from year to year. This year it was a multi-loop affair, with a gesture at being "real" cross country by routing the runners through a mud-filled holding pond. On the other hand, the five-kilometer course also included over a kilometer of running on the Maclay School track, which probably falls outside of the mud-lovers' definition of "real" cross country.

The runners seemed unconcerned with event names or the true meaning of cross country. Those issues certainly weren't plaguing the mind of Maclay's Jana Stolting when she leaped immediately to the front of the field at the start of the high school girls' 5K race. Stolting ate up grass, mud, synthetic running track surface, and dirt indiscriminately to clock 18:59, finishing well ahead of runner-up Stefanie Kurgatt (19:47) of Maclay. The two were joined in the top five by their teammates Shelby Salimone (21:00), Kristen Sweeney (21:44), and Lindsey Sanders (22:29) in scoring a winning fifteen points--the best possible score in high school cross country. Aucilla Christian, the second-place team, was well back with 67 points, just ahead of third-place Florida State University School's 73 points.

The high school boys' 5K wasn't settled as early. The initial leader in that race was North Florida Christian's Daren Evans, who flew through the first quarter-mile in 75 seconds. When Evans's early exuberance had worn off, the lead fell to Dieumy Duclos of Godby, Terrell Bryant of Godby, and Robert Abellera of Florida State. Passing the half-way point in 8:50, Duclos moved out in front for good, winning the race in 17:37. Bryant beat out Abellera for second place, 17:55 to 17:59. The team title, however, went to Maclay School, as the Marauders put four runners in the top ten and beat second-place Godby 38 to 59, with Lincoln a few more points back at 67.

After the first two races had churned up the muddy sections of the course it was time for the middle school two-mile event. Jack Rutledge, runner-up at the Owl Run earlier this season, moved early into the lead. He was unchallenged and ran away from the field to win by over 50 meters in 13:11, with Alex Pittman of Christ Classical Academy second in 13:25. Team honors went to Maclay, scoring 25 points over Florida State's 32. No other schools fielded a full team in the race. In the middle school girls' competition,Kasey James of Wakulla ran 14:21 for the win, finishing well ahead of the battle for second place between Tamani Wilson (14:44) and Caroline Willis (14:46), both of Maclay. Maclay was the only school to field a full girls' team in the race, therefore winning the title with a perfect fifteen points.

For the high schools, the post-season begins the week after this meet, starting with FHSAA district competitions. District 1-1A will be hosted by Maclay on this course, or some muddy variation thereof.


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