Sunday, September 9, 2012

Fort Walton Beach does all the roaring at Lion's Roar

"We run two races beforehand on the State meet course to get ready for it."

Lion's Roar cross-country meetThat was a comment by legendary high school cross-country coach Joe Newton in a recent interview. In 60 years of working with distance runners, Newton's teams at Elmhurst's York High School have won 27 Illinois state titles, so he knows something about preparing for a championship. Being familiar with the state meet course isn't the only piece of the puzzle, but it is a piece. As of 2012, Florida high schools have a new state cross-country meet course at Apalachee Regional Park. On Saturday, 8 September 2012, Leon High School hosted the Lion's Roar Invitational, giving teams their first chance to race on the Apalachee Regional Park Trail since it was designated the state championship site.

Lion's Roar 5 km open raceThe morning of competition started at 8:00 AM with the 5K open race. High school junior varsity runners, athletes from the community, and alumni looking to relive their glory days crowded onto the starting line, over a hundred strong. Wewahitchka High alumnus (c/o 2009) Billy Naylor went out hard, building up a lead of nearly 50 meters. Behind him, Wakulla High graduate (c/o 2012) Stanley Linton maintained a disciplined pace. By three kilometers into the race, Linton had caught Naylor. Meanwhile, Maclay assistant coach Stephen Cox had worked his way up through the field into third. Linton ran away from Naylor to win handily, 17:00 to 17:21. Cox hung on to finish third in 18:24. Brian Corbin was the fastest master runner on the course, placing sixth overall in 19:59. Hahira's Cora Pyles, a Lowndes High runner, was the first female finisher, 54th overall in 25:23.

Top Ten Males, Lion's Roar Open 5K
  1. Stanley Linton16:59.05 ~ Stanley Linton
  2. 17:20.63 ~ Billy Naylor
  3. 18:23.12 ~ Stephen Cox
  4. 19:30.62 ~ Austin Dodson
  5. 19:57.11 ~ Stephen Jones
  6. 19:58.98 ~ Brian Corbin
  7. 20:04.64 ~ Steven Simpkins
  8. 20:04.83 ~ Davis McKinney
  9. 20:09.82 ~ Daniel Anderson
  10. 20:20.62 ~ Tyler Luce

Top Ten Females, Lion's Roar Open 5K
  1. Cora Pyles25:22.48 ~ Cora Pyles
  2. 26:07.08 ~ Robin Borschel
  3. 26:52.54 ~ Hannah Mae Elmore
  4. 27:01.84 ~ Rebecca Ramirez
  5. 27:04.24 ~ Laney Tomberlin
  6. 27:28.37 ~ Joi Jones
  7. 27:40.51 ~ Carrie Mauldin
  8. 29:31.61 ~ Andrea Ostapski
  9. 29:43.73 ~ Dontoria Hitson
  10. 31:32.34 ~ Sarah Hall

Lion's Roar high school boys' 5 km.The big events on the ticket, though were the high school varsity races. The boys went first with a 9:00 AM start. An enormous lead pack of over a dozen runners thundered past the one kilometer mark, paced by Lincoln's Joseph Garcia. Ater 1600 meters the group up front started to thin out; Garcia himself was one of the casualties of the early pace. At three kilometers the pacesetting pack was down to six runners, Leon's Sukhi Khosla and Will Henderson, Land O' Lakes' Travis Nichols and Tyler Stahl, and Fort Walton Beach's Trey LaNasa and Charles Shackelford. Khosla, a sophomore, was coming off a spring track season where he had been the fastest freshman in the 3200m in the state of Florida. At the Lion's Roar, that promise transferred to the new cross-country season, and over the last two kilometers Khosla ran away from his competition, recording a 16:16 win. Nichols outkicked Henderson for the runner-up spot, 16:30 to 16:31. Stahl took fourth for Land O' Lakes in 16:35, but the next two spots went to Fort Walton Beach runners LaNasa (16:36) and Shackleford (16:38). Fort Walton Beach's next three finishers--Alex Godfrey (17:04), Joe Guidry (17:09), and Trace McMullen (17:26)--all placed 14th or better, giving their team a total of 47 points and the win. Host Leon was second in the team standings with 55 points, and Land O' Lakes was third with 92.

Team Standings, High School Boys
  1. Fort Walton Beach HS boys xc teamFort Walton Beach, 47
  2. Leon, 55
  3. Land O' Lakes, 92
  4. Maclay, 100
  5. Lincoln, 141
  6. Lowndes, 164
  7. North Florida Christian, 195
  8. Marianna, 247
  9. Wakulla, 285
  10. Blountstown, 291
  11. Chiles, 306
  12. Wewahitchka, 336
  13. Aucilla Christian, 387
  14. Rickards, 394
  15. Florida State University, 395
  16. North Bay Haven, 488

Top Ten, High School Boys
  1. Sukhi Khosla16:15.14 ~ Sukhi Khosla (Leon) 10
  2. 16:29.63 ~ Travis Nichols (Land O' Lakes) 11
  3. 16:30.94 ~ Will Henderson (Leon) 12
  4. 16:34.81 ~ Tyler Stahl (Land O' Lakes) 11
  5. 16:35.81 ~ Trey LaNasa (Fort Walton Beach) 10
  6. 16:37.96 ~ Charles Shackelford (Fort Walton Beach) 11
  7. 16:44.95 ~ Cade Zimmerman (Chiles) 11
  8. 16:54.08 ~ Griffith Rutherford (North Florida Christian) 11
  9. 16:57.39 ~ Travis Covert (Maclay) 12
  10. 17:03.72 ~ Alex Godfrey (Fort Walton Beach) 12

Megan CharbeneauIvy Chastain of Fort Walton Beach led the high school girls past the one kilometer mark of their five-kilometer race, but Megan Charbeneau and Alison Peters of Lowndes were in close pursuit, with Maclay's Kristin Sweeney not much farther back. Sweeney made a big break going up "The Wall," the steep hill right before the halfway point of the race. At 3K, Sweeney was 12-seconds ahead of Charbeneau, the runner in second position. But now it was Charbeneau's turn to move. The Lowndes High senior whittled down Sweeney's lead, moving into first with a kilometer to go. It was Charbeneau's race after that, and she went on to win in 19:46. Sweeney clung to second with a 20:07. Fort Walton Beach took the next three places, with freshman Emma Rudman (20:30), junior Rhianna Moller (20:54), and senior Chastain (20:59). That charge set up Fort Walton Beach's 31-point team total, good enough for the meet title. Led by Charbeneau, Lowndes tallied 43 points to take second. Host school Leon claimed the third-place team trophy with 88 points.

Team Standings, High School Girls
  1. Fort Walton Beach High School girls' cross-country teamFort Walton Beach, 31
  2. Lowndes, 43
  3. Leon, 88
  4. Wakulla, 98
  5. Maclay, 116
  6. Lincoln, 186
  7. Florida, 204
  8. Aucilla Christian, 212
  9. Blountstown, 243
  10. Godby, 267

Top Ten, High School Girls
  1. Kristin Sweeney19:45.51 ~ Megan Charbeneau (Lowndes) 12
  2. 20:06.76 ~ Kristin Sweeney (Maclay) 12
  3. 20:29.21 ~ Emma Rudman (Fort Walton Beach) 9
  4. 20:53.76 ~ Rhianna Moller (Fort Walton Beach) 11
  5. 20:58.22 ~ Ivy Chastain (Fort Walton Beach) 12
  6. 21:12.25 ~ Jacki Pinkerton (Lowndes) 11
  7. 21:18.10 ~ Alison Peters (Lowndes) 11
  8. 21:19.00 ~ Autumn Wable (Leon) 12
  9. 21:53.82 ~ Meagan Giddens (Taylor County)
  10. 21:57.74 ~ Autumn White (Fort Walton Beach) 10

Matthew CashinThe middle school boys and girls ran together in a single two-mile race, the final event of the morning. Unlike the high schools, the middle school athletes weren't getting a glimpse of the state meet course, but the Leon County Schools runners were getting a preview of the site of their championship meet coming up on 26 September 2012. Three days after a big win in the Battle at Tom Brown, Raa student Matthew Cashin took the win in the Lion's Roar middle school race. Running for the Rams Running Club, Cashin ran 12:15 to finish over 60 meters ahead of the runner up, Bryce Cole of Riversprings Middle School. Cole worked hard to earn his second-place finish, kicking in to clock a 12:31, just beating out Matthew Newland (12:32) and Stephen Veliz (12:33).

Top Ten, Middle School Boys
  1. Lion' Roar cross-county meet12:14.74 ~ Matthew Cashin (Rams Running Club) 8
  2. 12:30.01 ~ Bryce Cole (Riversprings) 8
  3. 12:31.85 ~ Matthew Newland (Mustang Running Club) 7
  4. 12:32.38 ~ Stephen Veliz (Wolf Pack Running Club) 8
  5. 12:40.74 ~ Shane Suchoki (Wolf Pack Running Club) 8
  6. 12:46.97 ~ Ricky Mobley (Falcon Track Club) 8
  7. 12:57.28 ~ Jacob Dodson (Rams Running Club) 7
  8. 13:06.62 ~ Clayton Carlson (Wolf Pack Running Club) 7
  9. 13:12.99 ~ Triston Stapp (Falcon Track Club) 8
  10. 13:16.12 ~ Steven Gross (Viking Running Club) 8

Right behind Veliz at 12:36, Cassie Pierron, a seventh-grade student at Lake City Middle School, placed fifth overall for the Eye Of The Tiger Running Club, the first female finisher. Her teammate Bridget Morse was the girls' runner up with a 12:49. Molly McCann of Tallahassee's Holy Comforter Episcopal School was third in 13:14, the first hometown finisher.

Top Ten, Middle School Girls
  1. Lion's Roar cross-country meet12:35.49 ~ Cassie Pierron (Eye of the Tiger Running Club) 7
  2. 12:48.11 ~ Bridget Morse (Eye of the Tiger Running Club) 7
  3. 13:13.71 ~ Molly McCann (Holy Comforter Episcopal) 8
  4. 13:14.33 ~ Jillian Morse (Eye of the Tiger Running Club) 7
  5. 13:14.72 ~ Audrey Dogan (Rams Running Club) 8
  6. 13:40.46 ~ Zoe Sheldon (Wolf Pack Running Club) 8
  7. 13:44.19 ~ Katherine Resavage (Holy Comforter Episcopal) 6
  8. 14:05.56 ~ Gray Kinch (Holy Comforter Episcopal) 8
  9. 14:24.81 ~ Arianna Neeley (Wolf Pack Running Club) 7
  10. 14:26.51 ~ Kelsey Morse (Viking Running Club) 4



  1. Alright Herb. Great work. I think I've got the scoring figured out. What do the numbers at the end on the individual entries represent? They seem too low to be ages.

  2. Those are grade levels. In a road race, you might be wondering when a guy is going to move to the next age group and cease plaguing you. In high school (and middle school), the question is when an athlete is going to graduate.