Thursday, September 22, 2016

Lincoln frosh Alyson Churchill stuns Southwest Georgia with an 18:06

Bainbridge High BearcatsIn the early 1800s, Seminole raids from Spanish Florida into Georgia in the United States helped to precipitate the First Seminole War. Emulating those ninteenth-century raiders, high school athletes from Tallahassee, Florida showed up in Bainbridge, Georgia on Saturday morning, 17 September 2016, for Bainbridge High's seventeenth annual Bearcat Cross Country Invitational. They returned home to Florida with every honor to be won at the meet--Tallahassee's Maclay School took both the boys' and girls' team titles, and Maclay sophomore Clay Milford captured first place in the boys' race. Tallahassee Lincoln frosh Alyson Churchill carted home first place in the girls' 5K.


The Invitational opened at 8:00 AM with the high school girls' 5K race. Alyson Churchill was on the starting line with the Lincoln team. A frosh, this was only her second high school race, but Churchill's first had been a win at the Cougar Cross Country Challenge, where she had run 18:47 on 27 August 2016. Colquitt County junior Elizabeth Funderburk was also in the race. Funderburk had more than a few high school wins on her record, including the 2014 Bearcat Invitational title. Just a week earlier on 10 September 2016, Funderburk had gone 18:34 to win the high school girls' 5K at the Lee County Invitational.


"Elizabeth led for around the first 800 meters," recalled Churchill. "Then I passed her and was able to stay in front for the rest of the race. I knew she was close behind me though. She definitely pushed me."


Churchill was pushed enough that she ran 18:06, possibly becoming the first girl to crack 19:00 at the Bearcat Invitational, and very nearly the first to break 18:00. Funderburk was second in 18:25.


Third place went to Maclay's first runner, senior Caroline Willis, in 19:48. The Maclay onslaught continued with senior Molly McCann taking fifth in 20:13, eighth-grader Lindsay James sixth in 20:29, sixth-grader Ella Porcher eleventh in 21:46, and frosh Avery Smith twelfth in 22:12. With that, the Maclay girls had 32 points and the 2016 Bearcat Invitational team title. Churchill and the Lincoln girls took second in the field of thirteen teams with 48 points. Led by the seventh-place finish of frosh Emily Golden, Tift County was third with 110 points.


2016 Bearcat Invitational Team Standings, High School Girls
  1. Maclay, 31
  2. Lincoln, 48
  3. Tift County, 110
  4. Lee County, 124
  5. Aucilla Christian, 157
  6. Bainbridge, 181
  7. Thomas County Central, 199
  8. Colquitt County, 205
  9. Worth County, 208
  10. Seminole County, 271
  11. Thomasville, 313
  12. Baconton Charter, 346
  13. Grace Christian, 370

Top 15 High School Girls, 2016 Bearcat Invitational
  1. 18:05.97 ~ Alyson Churchill (Lincoln) 9
  2. 18:24.58 ~ Elizabeth Funderburk (Colquitt County) 11
  3. 19:47.18 ~ Caroline Willis (Maclay) 12
  4. 20:02.45 ~ Alli Hay (Pataula Charter) 12
  5. 20:12.44 ~ Molly McCann (Maclay) 12
  6. 20:28.47 ~ Lindsay James (Maclay) 8
  7. 20:48.13 ~ Emily Golden (Tift County) 9
  8. 21:02.52 ~ Chase Merrick (Lincoln) 9
  9. 21:20.50 ~ Megan Churchill (Lincoln) 9
  10. 21:37.66 ~ Olivia Miller (Chiles) 10
  11. 21:45.79 ~ Ella Porcher (Maclay) 6
  12. 22:11.32 ~ Avery Smith (Maclay) 9
  13. 22:15.62 ~ Macy Williams (Seminole County) 9
  14. 22:17.09 ~ Sophia Paredes (Maclay) 6
  15. 22:21.43 ~ Abbey Schultz (Lincoln) 12

The boys's race was next on the program. After finishing back in the pack in the Cougar Challenge and the Bay Invitational, Maclay's Clay Milford got his first win of the 2016 season, running 16:41. Maclay senior Jake Mazziotta was second in 16:55, and Aucilla Christian senior Gatlin Nennstiel placed third in 17:16.


After the one-two finish of Milford and Mazziotta, the Maclay boys added performances from senior Gannon Hundley (6th, 17:54), junior Daniel Sweeney (10th, 18:21), and frosh Jay Brown (15th, 18:43) to rack up a team total of 32 points, putting the Marauders first among seventeen teams. Led by top-five finishes by senior Josh Liles (4th, 17:29) and junior Clayton Carlson (5th, 17:44), Tallahassee's Lincoln Trojans were second with 51 points. The hosting Bainbridge Bearcats were third with 117 points behind their top runner, junior Efrain Diaz (18th, 18:46).


2016 Bearcat Invitational Team Standings, High School Boys
  1. Maclay, 32
  2. Lincoln, 51
  3. Bainbridge, 117
  4. Lee County, 144
  5. Seminole County, 144
  6. Tift County, 185
  7. Aucilla Christian, 198
  8. Thomas County Central, 241
  9. Fitzgerald, 262
  10. Colquitt County, 297
  11. Baconton Charter, 316
  12. Cairo, 336
  13. Early County, 337
  14. Worth County, 350
  15. Grace Christian, 352
  16. Thomasville, 396
  17. Brookwood, 449

Top 15 High School Boys, 2016 Bearcat Invitational
  1. 16:40.81 ~ Clayburn Milford (Maclay) 10
  2. 16:54.21 ~ Jake Mazziotta (Maclay) 12
  3. 17:15.71 ~ Gatlin Nennstiel (Aucilla Christian) 12
  4. 17:28.83 ~ Josh Liles (Lincoln) 12
  5. 17:43.91 ~ Clayton Carlson (Lincoln) 11
  6. 17:53.23 ~ Gannon Hundley (Maclay) 12
  7. 17:54.47 ~ Jake Merritt (Colquitt County) 11
  8. 18:11.50 ~ David A Keen (North Florida Christian) 9
  9. 18:16.36 ~ Dennis Majano (Lincoln) 11
  10. 18:20.68 ~ Daniel Sweeney (Maclay) 11
  11. 18:26.56 ~ Dustin Reynolds (Seminole County) 12
  12. 18:28.22 ~ Hunter Hatfield (Lee County) 11
  13. 18:28.53 ~ Benjamin Phillips (Lee County) 9
  14. 18:29.59 ~ Charles Hruda (Lincoln) 10
  15. 18:42.15 ~ Jay Brown (Maclay) 9

In the middle school races, Georgia athletes had better luck against the Florida incursion. Representing Thomas County Middle School in Thomasville, Georgia, eighth-grader Anna James won the middle school girls' two mile, running 13:32. Eighth-grader Laney Grubbs from Crawfordville, Florida's Wakulla Middle School was runner-up in 14:01. Lee County seventh-grader Emily Phillips placed third in 14:20.


Tift Middle Schools' seventh-grader Ainsley Toews was fourth in 14:29. Tift also had eighth-grader Noelia Sandoval place sixth in 14:57, seventh-grader Alexandria Vaughan ninth in 15:20, eighth-grader Karoline Ponder tenth in 15:29, and seventh-grader Anna Willis thirteenth in 15:46, giving the squad 35 points and the team title. Emily Phillips and Lee County were second with 62 points. Led by eighth-grader Meg Houston (11th, 15:32), Pataula Charter was third with 93 points.


2016 Bearcat Invitational Team Standings, Middle School Girls
  1. Tift, 35
  2. Lee County, 62
  3. Pataula Charter, 93
  4. Thomas County, 99
  5. Wakulla, 144
  6. Colquitt County, 160
  7. Seminole County, 166
  8. Baconton Charter, 192

Top 15 Middle School Girls, 2016 Bearcat Invitational
  1. 13:31.48 ~ Anna James (Thomas County) 8
  2. 14:00.16 ~ Laney Grubbs (Wakulla) 8
  3. 14:19.44 ~ Emily Phillips (Lee County) 7
  4. 14:28.77 ~ Ainsley Toews (Tift) 7
  5. 14:54.71 ~ Emma Scwarc (Brookwood) 8
  6. 14:56.16 ~ Noelia Sandoval (Tift) 8
  7. 15:17.36 ~ Vivian Schuyler (Bainbridge) 8
  8. 15:17.63 ~ Gracie Lawhon (Wakulla) 8
  9. 15:19.28 ~ Alexandria Vaughan (Tift) 7
  10. 15:28.13 ~ Karoline Ponder (Tift) 8
  11. 15:31.01 ~ Meg Houston (Pataula Charter) 8
  12. 15:34.61 ~ Alea Bochette (Lee County) 7
  13. 15:45.53 ~ Anna Willis (Tift) 7
  14. 15:54.52 ~ Katie McMillan (Tift) 8
  15. 15:55.57 ~ Emma Briggs (Bainbridge) 8

Lee County brought 26 athletes to Bainbridge for the middle school boys' two mile, but Tift eighth-grader J. D. Bengston edged Lee County seventh-grader Josh Macklin for the win, 11:35 to 11:39. Grace Christian eighth-grader Wyatt Carpenter was third in 11:52.


In all, Tift put four runners in the top eight, but while Tift was waiting for a fifth runner, Lee County placed seventh-grader Alex Collins seventh in 12:26, eighth-grader Seth Tomlinson tenth in 12:51, eighth-grader Will Tomlinson eleventh in 12:56, and sixth-grader Wyatt Waddell twelfth in 13:10. With that, Lee County had 42 points and the championship. Tift was second with 61 points. Behind the fifth-place 12:20 performance of eighth-grader Lawson Brinkley, MacIntyre Park was third in the team standings with 80 points.


2016 Bearcat Invitational Team Standings, Middle School Boys
  1. Lee County, 42
  2. Tift, 61
  3. MacIntyre Park, 90
  4. Bainbridge, 140
  5. Colquitt County, 166
  6. Worth County, 172
  7. Brookwood, 209
  8. Grace Christian, 222
  9. Thomas County, 246
  10. Seminole County, 246
  11. Pataula Charter, 250
  12. Christ Classical, 307
  13. Baconton Charter, 314

Top 15 Middle School Boys, 2016 Bearcat Invitational
  1. 11:34.59 ~ J. D. Bengston (Tift) 8
  2. 11:38.91 ~ Josh Macklin (Lee County) 7
  3. 11:52.00 ~ Wyatt Carpenter (Grace Christian) 8
  4. 12:04.36 ~ Beau Bengston (Tift) 8
  5. 12:19.27 ~ Lawson Brinkley (MacIntyre Park) 8
  6. 12:24.07 ~ Jeremiah Thomas (Tift) 8
  7. 12:25.67 ~ Alex Collins (Lee County) 7
  8. 12:26.78 ~ Bryce Stephens (Tift) 8
  9. 12:46.50 ~ Daniel Jones (Grace Christian) 8
  10. 12:50.61 ~ Seth Tomlinson (Lee County) 8
  11. 12:55.79 ~ Will Tomlinson (Lee County) 8
  12. 13:09.38 ~ Wyatt Waddell (Lee County) 6
  13. 13:11.24 ~ Aiden Matthews (Bainbridge) 8
  14. 13:11.60 ~ Case Gregory (Colquitt County) 7
  15. 13:14.83 ~ Jack Saussy (Brookwood) 7

Timing of the 2016 Bearcat Invitational was provided by Miles and Minutes, LLC, of Tallahassee, Florida.


Bainbridge High School Bearcat Cross-Country Invitational Champions
2000 - 2016
High School Girls 5K
DateTeam ChampIndividual Champ









27 September 2003Tift County, 3922:28, Demonessa Pyle (Berrien County)



24 September 2005Tift County, 32
23 September 2006

22 September 2007

20 September 2008Bainbridge, 3921:06, April Thomas (Bainbridge) 10
19 September 2009Westover, 4519:31, April Thomas (Bainbridge) 11
18 September 2010Lee County
17 September 2011Tift County, 3621:50, Ericka Taylor (Westover) 11
22 September 2012Thomasville, 6421:05, Ericka Taylor (Westover) 12
14 September 2013Thomas County Central, 5519:56, Paige Braswell (Bainbridge) 12
20 September 2014Maclay, 3519:11, Elizabeth Funderburk (Colquitt County) 9
26 September 2015Lincoln, 6021:10, Juliana Krueger (Lincoln) 12
17 September 2016Maclay, 3118:06, Alyson Churchill (Lincoln) 9
High School Boys 5K
DateTeam ChampIndividual Champ









27 September 2003Westover, 4117:47, David Marley (Westover)



24 September 2005Bainbridge, 54
23 September 2006

22 September 2007

20 September 2008Tift County, 3717:13, David Daniel (Thomasville) 11
19 September 2009Tift County, 4916:04, Hunter Honeycutt (Tift County) 10
18 September 2010Westover
17 September 2011Tift County, 5516:48, Hunter Honeycutt (Tift County) 12
22 September 2012Bainbridge, 7716:40, Josh Mason (Westover) 12
14 September 2013Bainbridge, 6516:15, Chase Harris (Bainbridge) 11
20 September 2014Maclay, 5116:59, Bryce Swindell (Lassiter) 12
26 September 2015Lowndes, 4316:52, Kaleb Wolfenden (Lowndes) 11
17 September 2016Maclay, 3216:41, Clayburn Milford (Maclay) 10
Additions and corrections to this table will be accepted gratefully. ~HW


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