Friday, October 16, 2015

Molen and D'Aleo win, but Holy Comforter's teams sweep the Tallahassee Open

Emily Molen"Did we win, coach? Did we win?"

That was the question of one of the athletes at the Tallahassee Open Middle School Cross Country Meet on Thursday afternoon, 15 October 2015. On thing about cross country, though, is that you usually don't know the winning teams until the last runner is finished. That day at Holy Comforter Episcopal School, though, was one of the exceptions.
Any score less than 28 points is unbeatable, and when the fifth Holy Comforter runner had crossed the finish line in the girls' 3K race it was clear that the Crusaders had scored 21, clinching the win. Similarly, the mathematics of cross country was on the side of Holy Comforter's boys when they scored a winning 27 points in their own 3K race. As for individuals, it's indisputable that the winner is who you see cross the finish line first, and in the girls' race that was Deerlake eighth-grader Emily Molen with a meet record of 11:23. Emerald Coast eighth-grader Jacob D'Aleo won the boys' 3K by half a minute, running 10:25.

Emily Molen, Alyson ChurchillThe racing took place on Lawson's Course behind Holy Comforter Episcopal School. The Elementary School one-mile race provided a warm-up act at 3:30 PM, but the first of the main events was at 4:00 PM--the girls' 3K. There was the usual initial scramble for the lead, but by half a kilometer into the race Emily Molen was setting the pace, followed by Swift Creek eighth-grader Alyson Churchill, both running unattached. Molen knew the course, having run the race in 2014, but familiarity didn't diminish her respect for the hilly 3K.

"It's tough," said Molen.

"The hills were pretty tough for me," concurred Churchill. "I missed the woods at Apalachee Regional Park, but I still liked it."

Alyson ChurchillAs Churchill noted, there were no forested sections of the race, so spectators could see the entire race unfold. What they saw was Molen expanding her lead--from a single second at the half kilometer, to five seconds at the kilometer, then to twenty seconds at the two kilometer mark. Molen was over half a minute ahead when she finished the race, winning in 11:23. Alyson Churchill was second in 11:57. Swift Creek eighth-grader Megan Churchill was third in 12:02.

Molen, Churchill, and Churchill had all raced unattached, so the first scorer across the line was Holy Comforter eighth-grader Hannah Hosay, fourth in 12:12. Eighth-grader Caitlin Wilkey took fifth for the Mustang Runners Club in 12:31, but right after Wilkey came a rush of Crimson singlets as the rest of Holy Comforter's scorers finished--eighth-graders Elizabeth Calabro (6th, 12:33), Avery Smith (7th, 12:47), and Lauren Dessi (9th, 13:08); plus sixth-grader Kate Smith (10th, 13:13). Those five gave the Crusaders 21 points and first place in a field of six teams. Emerald Coast's Lindy Arthur interrupted the flood of red-clad runners, placing eighth in 13:02 and leading her team to second place with 56 points. Seventh-grader Madison Perkins (11th, 13:27) was the top scorer for the Marauders, who placed third with 68.

Girls' Team Standings, 2015 Tallahassee Open Middle School XC Championship
  1. Holy Comforter, 21
  2. Emerald Coast, 56
  3. Maclay, 68
  4. Mustang Running Club, 93
  5. Christ Classical, 151
  6. Math and Science, 160

Top 15 Girls, 2015 Tallahassee Open Middle School XC Championship
  1. 11:22.42 ~ Emily Molen (Unattached) 8Megan Churchill, Hannah Hosay
  2. 11:56.63 ~ Alyson Churchill (Unattached) 8
  3. 12:01.27 ~ Megan Churchill (Unattached) 8
  4. 12:11.23 ~ Hannah Hosay (Holy Comforter) 8
  5. 12:30.21 ~ Caitlin Wilkey (Mustang Running Club) 8
  6. 12:32.47 ~ Elizabeth Calabro (Holy Comforter) 8
  7. 12:46.10 ~ Avery Smith (Holy Comforter) 8
  8. 13:01.40 ~ Lindy Arthur (Emerald Coast) 7
  9. 13:07.10 ~ Lauren Dessi (Holy Comforter) 8
  10. 13:12.89 ~ Kate Smith (Holy Comforter) 6
  11. 13:26.94 ~ Madison Perkins (Maclay) 7
  12. 13:31.73 ~ Aris Short (Emerald Coast) 7
  13. 13:36.65 ~ Gracie Holder (Emerald Coast) 6
  14. 13:40.35 ~ Katelyn Dessi (Holy Comforter) 7
  15. 13:44.88 ~ Madeleine Roberts (Maclay) 8

Jacob D'Aleo"I liked the course a lot," said Jacob D'Aleo. "It was one of the best courses I've run on."

It's quite possible that the Emerald Coast Middle School eighth-grader's high opinion of Lawson's Course was colored by the fact that he outran everyone there. Half a kilometer into the three-kilometer race, D'Aleo was already more than ten seconds ahead of the field and continuing to cruise away from them. A battle for second was brewing. Directly behind D'Aleo Holy Comforter eighth-graders Brecht Heuchan, Trey Jackson, Jackson Roberts, and Joseph Ashebo were in a tight group with Maclay eighth-grader Johnny McClure. Halfway through the race no one had blinked--all five were still together. Heuchan fell off the pace first, then Ashebo and Roberts. With a kilometer to go it was just Jackon and McClure chasing D'Aleo.

While D'Aleo raced home to a winning 10:25, Jackson broke away from McClure to take second in 10:55. McClure was third in 11:03, followed by Roberts in fourth at 11:05. Ashebo outkicked sixth-grader Trey Daniels of the Mustang Runners for fifth, 11:12.27 to 11:12.72. Heuchan was seventh in 11:18 and Holy Comforter's final scorer was sixth-grader Leo Kelly, ninth in 11:26.

Trey Jackson, Johnny McClureAfter Kelly's finish, Holy Comforter had a total of 27 points and a mathematically guaranteed win. Maclay was second in the seven-team field with 57 points and Emerald Coast third with 69.

The meet was the final middle school cross country competition in Tallahassee for 2015, but not in Florida.

"I've got one more meet before State," said D'Aleo. "The Destin Invitational next weekend."

Holy Comforter is headed to the South Georgia / North Florida Cross Country Championships in Thomasville on 24 October 2015, and every Florida athlete aspires to race at the Florida Youth Running Association's state championship meet in Lakeland's Holloway Park on Saturday, 31 October 2015. And after that?

"I'll be training for track," said D'Aleo.

Boys' Team Standings, 2015 Tallahassee Open Middle School XC Championship
  1. Holy Comforter, 27
  2. Maclay, 57
  3. Emerald Coast, 69
  4. Mustang Running Club, 83
  5. Christ Classical, 146
  6. Trinity Catholic, 182
  7. Imagine, 213

Top 15 Boys, 2015 Tallahassee Open Middle School XC Championship
  1. 10:24.78 ~ Jacob D'Aleo (Emerald Coast) 8Jackson Roberts
  2. 10:54.66 ~ Trey Jackson (Holy Comforter) 8
  3. 11:02.68 ~ Johnny McClure (Maclay) 8
  4. 11:04.95 ~ Jackson Roberts (Holy Comforter) 8
  5. 11:12.27 ~ Joseph Ashebo (Holy Comforter) 8
  6. 11:12.72 ~ Trey Daniels (Mustang Running Club) 6
  7. 11:17.59 ~ Brecht Heuchan (Holy Comforter) 8
  8. 11:20.60 ~ Thomas Deison (Maclay) 8
  9. 11:25.91 ~ Leo Kelly (Holy Comforter) 6
  10. 11:30.97 ~ Spencer Amsellem (Unattached) 8
  11. 11:32.06 ~ Damian Hundley (Maclay) 8
  12. 11:34.82 ~ Ben Kirbo (Holy Comforter) 6
  13. 11:40.26 ~ Hawthorne Hay (Mustang Running Club) 8
  14. 11:42.80 ~ Jackson Jones (Holy Comforter) 7
  15. 11:43.86 ~ Lane Marshall (Emerald Coast) 8


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