Saturday, October 2, 2010

The 2010 Cougar Challenge belongs to Kurgatt and Slupecki

Stefanie Kurgatt remained undefeated for the 2010 high school cross-country season after winning the Cougar Cross-Country Challenge on Saturday, 2 October 2010. The Maclay sophomore ran 19:23 on the 5K course through Phipps Park, successfully defending her 2009 Cougar Challenge title. The West Florida Tech girls took the team trophy home to Pensacola, scoring 27 points. Lincoln's Jacob Slupecki won the boys' race in 16:10, leading Lincoln to the team title with 52 points.

The girls' race was scheduled for 9:00, but was delayed till past 9:20 while everyone waited for West Florida Tech to show up. The West Florida girls may have been late arriving, but they weren't tardy in challenging for the lead. Five of them moved to the front immediately after the starting gun fired. West Florida maintained its monopoly on the lead till the end of the first kilometer, when Maclay's Kurgatt moved past Jaronda Stringfield of West Florida to take the lead. During the second kilometer Kristin Sweeney of Maclay passed Stringfield to take over the second spot. Kurgatt spent the rest of the race running away from the field, and Sweeney held on to finish second in 20:18, giving Maclay the first two spots in the race. But West Florida had Stringfield (3rd, 20:33), JazMyne Branch (4th, 21:11), Kaysi Roberts (5th, 21:11), Keyundra McCastle (6th, 21:12), and Bria Upshur (9th, 21:24) in the top ten, giving them a total of 27 points--and it is mathematically impossible to beat a score of 27. Led by Sarah Sorenson (7th, 21:17), Aucilla Christian Academy placed second with 80 points, while Maclay was third with 88.

In the boys' race Jacob Slupecki raced out to a 65-second first 400m, going to the front early. Slupecki didn't hold that pace, or he would have run 13:33. But if anyone expected him to come back to the pack, well, they were wrong. Slupecki maintained a lead of about 100m throughout the entire race on his way to the win. Behind Slupecki, Lincoln's Trevor Touchton ran in second till the last kilometer of the race when he was overtaken by P. K. Yonge's Garrett Westlake. Westlake beat Touchton for the runner-up spot, 16:28 to 16:36. P. K. Yonge's Jordan Brown worked to aid his team's cause, running in fourth through much of the race, but over the last kilometer he was passed first by Roman Kowalski of Pensacola Catholic and then by a late-charging Patrick Swain of Maclay. Swain, the 2009 Cougar Challenge champion, finished fourth in16:40, while Kowalski was fifth in 16:42 and Brown was sixth in 16:47. Brown may have dropped a couple of points for Yonge late in the race, but those points wouldn't have been enough for Yonge to gain the team title; Lincoln beat Yonge 52 to 71. Pensacola Catholic beat West Florida Tech for third on a tie-breaker; each team totaled 83 points.

As in 2009, Godby High hosted the 2010 Cougar Challenge in Phipps Park, but not on the same course. The 5K route used for this year's Challenge was the same as that used for the 5K race at the 2010 Miller Landing Madness, held on August 28. Either way, the runners got to see some hills, climbing up and down the Lake Jackson drainage basin. The 2010 Cougar Challenge girls' race had 149 finishers on 13 teams, and the boys' race had 173 finishers on 13 teams, up from 2009. As long as the word doesn't get out about the hills, the event could continue to grow.

High school cross-country season continues in the Tallahassee area with the Florida State University Invitational at Apalachee Regional Park on October 9, the Yellow Jacket Invitational at Greenwood Plantation on October 16, the GHSA Region 1-2A meet at Pebble Hill Plantation on October 28, the Maclay Championships at Maclay School on October 28, the FHSAA District 1-1A meet at Maclay School on November 4, and the FHSAA Region 1-2A/3A meet at Sunnyhill Farm on November 13.

Girls' team standings, 2010 Cougar Cross-Country Challenge
  1. West Florida Tech, 27
  2. Aucilla Christian Academy, 80
  3. Maclay School, 88
  4. Wakulla High School, 90
  5. P. K. Yonge Developmental Research School, 129
  6. Florida State University School, 153
  7. Lincoln High School, 177
  8. Pensacola Catholic High School, 193
  9. Thomasville High School, 227
  10. Altha Public School, 286
  11. Suwannee High School, 326
  12. John Paul II Catholic High School, 344
  13. Marianna High School, 351

Top 15 girls, 2010 Cougar Cross-Country Challenge
  1. Stefanie Kurgatt (Maclay) 19:23
  2. Kristin Sweeney (Maclay) 20:18
  3. Jeronda Stringfield (West Florida) 20:33
  4. JazMyne Branch (West Florida) 21:11
  5. Kaysi Roberts (West Florida) 21:11
  6. Keyundra McCastle (West Florida) 21:12
  7. Sarah Sorenson (Aucilla) 21:17
  8. Emily Westlake (P. K. Yonge) 21:17
  9. Bria Upshure (West Florida) 21:24
  10. Rebecca Farr (Pensacola Catholic) 21:28
  11. Anna Finlayson (Aucilla) 21:36
  12. Elizabeth Riley (Aucilla) 21:47
  13. Marty Wiedeman (Wakulla) 21:50
  14. Alina McCullers (Wakulla) 21:51
  15. Cora Atkinson (Wakulla) 21:52

Boys' team standings, 2010 Cougar Cross-Country Challenge
  1. Lincoln High School, 52
  2. P. K. Yonge, 71
  3. Pensacola Catholic, 83
  4. West Florida Tech, 83
  5. Maclay School, 92
  6. Florida State University School, 158
  7. Wakulla High School, 159
  8. Marianna High School, 210
  9. Godby High School, 247
  10. North Florida Christian School, 287
  11. Thomasville High School, 317
  12. Aucilla Christian Academy, 346
  13. Altha Public School, 355

Top 15 boys, 2010 Cougar Cross-Country Challenge
  1. Jacob Slupecki (Lincoln) 16:10
  2. Garrett Westlake (P. K. Yonge) 16:28
  3. Trevor Touchton (Lincoln) 16:36
  4. Patrick Swain (Maclay) 16:40
  5. Roman Kowalski (Pensacola Catholic) 16:42
  6. Jordan Brown (P. K. Yonge) 16:47
  7. Nicolas Mascardo (West Florida) 16:52
  8. Aaron Neal (West Florida) 17:00
  9. Trey Edwards (Florida State) 17:07
  10. Alex Close (Lincoln) 17:09
  11. Derek Bolser (P. K. Yonge) 17:10
  12. Brennan Borgstad (Lincoln) 17:12
  13. A. J. Ricketts (Pensacola Catholic) 17:14
  14. Alex Kerrigan (Pensacola Catholic) 17:20
  15. Stanley Linton (Wakulla) 17:40



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. You might want to get your facts straight before trying to insult the West Florida Coach for not being able to find the course.

    The West Florida bus broke down 10 miles out of the course. Thankfully to a gracious host, they delayed the race.