Sunday, December 6, 2009

North All-Stars Sweep the FACA Cross-Country Meet

If running cross-country in cold weather and on hills gives an advantage to runners from north Florida, then the Region 1 all-star teams took every advantage of that edge at the 2009 FACA Senior All-Star Cross-Country meet held Saturday, December 5, at the Apalachee Regional Park Trail in Tallahassee. The North (Region 1) All-Stars outscored the other regions in the girls' race and won the boys' race with a near-perfect score of 18 points. In the individual standings Jana Stolting ran away with the girls' 5K in 18:12 while Sean Rynning of Lyman High surged ahead in the final mile to win the boys' race in 16:07.

The girls' race started at 9:00am. Maclay's Jana Stolting went almost immediately to the front. Stolting knew the course better than any other runner in the field, having already run in the FSU Invitational and the District 1-2A Meet, the only other events held at the ARP. She also had run the course faster than any other runner in the field, being the course record holder. As Stolting lengthened her lead, she was pursued by Marjorie Ducos of Winter Park. Early in the third kilometer Chelsea Woodruff of Trinity Prep broke from the rest of the pack and began chasing down Ducos. By the start of the fourth kilometer Stolting was entirely out of reach, but Woodruff had nearly closed the gap on Ducos. During the final kilometer Woodruff had caught Ducos and moved into the second position. The Wall, the steepest hill on the course, peaks 500 meters before the finish. Stolting crested the Wall with the race well in hand, and turned toward the finish line with her eyes only on the clock. Woodruff reached the top of the Wall next, but Ducos was right behind. Stolting crossed the line in 18:13, but there was still a race for runner up. Sprinting down the final stretch, Ducos overtook Woodruff and thundered across the line in 19:02, a few seconds ahead of Woodruff's 19:05.

The East (Region 2) All Stars were initially in good shape with a second and a third place finish by Ducos and Woodruff in hand, but the North (Region 1) held Stolting's Ace. The North's next four draws were Holly Stanton (4th, 19:27), Chiles's Kendall Andrews (5th, 19:40), Iolani Scanlon (7th, 19:44), and Angie Epifano (10th, 20:15). The North ended up with 27 points--not only good enough for the win, but good enough to beat any other five runners in the race. Do the math yourself if you don't believe me. The East (Region 2) all-stars were runners-up with 55 points, the South (Region 4) seniors finished third with 64, and the West (Region 3) was fourth with 77.

No early leader emerged to dominate the boys' 5K race. At two kilometers a large pack led the field, with as many runners in front as would fit across the course. At three kilometers there will still ten runners in the lead group. By the four kilometer mark, Lyman's Sean Rynning had stolen a few yards on the field. Berkeley Prep's Tyler Greathouse and Lee's Chris Haynes led the chase. With half a kilometer remaining Rynning reached the top of the Wall with the lead and began to drive for the finish line. Greathouse had faded, and only Haynes looked like he had a chance at Rynning. But no one was going to catch Rynning that morning once the Lyman senior had the finish in sight. Rynning broke the tape in 16:08, well ahead of Haynes's runner-up performance of 16:15. Greathouse hung on for third in 16:22, two steps ahead of Brandon Scott's 16:23.

The boys' race for individual honors was closer than the girls', but the reverse was true of the team contests. The North (Region 1) completely dominated the other boys' teams, capturing five of the first six places and scoring a near-perfect 18 points. Only Tyler Greathouse's third-place finish for the West (Region 3) prevented the North (Region 1) from scoring a perfect 15. The West (Region 3) team was second with 58 points, while the South (Region 4) all-stars were third with 76, and the East (Region 2) squad took fourth with 79.

Leon Country worked hard to correct rain damage to the course that had occurred during storms on Wednesday. When they were done, the course was in the best shape that it was dedicated at the Florida State University Invitational back in October. However, additional rain on Friday combined with the equipment that was on the course during repairs plus the footsteps of several dozen all-star cross-country runners churned up some mud. However, we're not talking hog-wallow muddy; just slightly-sub-optimal-racing-conditions muddy. Temperatures were a bit cooler than the Florida tourist industry would like to admit to, but comfortable for running, if not for standing around watching the races.



  1. Well done, Herb! Its been a joy reading your XC posts this season. They should at least triple your salary for all your hard work. Aw, heck, quadruple it even!

    Thanks, Doug

  2. Doug,

    Thank you for the kind words, and thanks also for the links throughout the season from the Maclay Runners site. It's always easier to write these things when someone is actually reading them!