Friday, September 30, 2016

Paige Churchill and Weston Blake lead the Stampede at Montford

The weather made an attempt to cancel Montford Middle School's fourth annual Mustang Cross Country Stampede. Storms danced around the Tallahassee, Florida area that Wednesday evening, 28 September 2016. Lightning flickered. Thunder rumbled. In the end, though, the best the weather could manage was a fifteen-minute lightning delay. After that the cross country meet went on as planned. The girls from the host school, Montford, took the team title in their race, but the Swift Creek Middle School Wolves took every other honor. Swift Creek's Paige Churchill won the girls' two-mile race in 13:12, Wes Blake of Swift Creek won the boys' two mile in 11:28, and the Wolves won the boys' team title as well.

Paige Churchill, Lexi Gray
Paige Churchill and Lexi Gray

Because of the weather delay, the girls started their race at about 6:15 PM. Coming off a win at the Everhart Invitational six days earlier, Raa eighth-grader Amaya Jones set the early pace. For the first kilometer the spectators saw Jones out front, with two Swift Creek runners close behind--eighth-grader Lexi Gray and sixth-grader Paige Churchill. After that, the runners turned into the woods, out of sight for the next kilometer. When they came out of the trees their positions were reversed. Churchill and Gray were leading, with Jones in pursuit.

"Lexi and I ran together the whole way," recalled Churchill. "She was ahead of me right before the finish but at the very end I passed her."

Churchill crossed the line in 13:12, earning her second win in three races this season. Gray was runner-up in 13:15, and Jones third in 13:37.

Amaya Jones
Amaya Jones

Swift Creek put three runners in the top ten, but so did the Montford Mustangs, with Sophia Harris placing fourth in 13:46, Sadie Wolfe sixth in 13:48, and Elizabeth Sauer eighth in 14:02. Ella Grace Hodges (12th, 14:17) and Kellett Snyder (13th, 14:24) finished the scoring for Montford, giving the Mustangs 43 points and the team title. Led by the fifth-place 13:46 performance of sixth-grader Layla Thompson, Deerlake was second with 57 points. Swift Creek placed third with 72.

2016 Mustang Stampede Team Standings, Girls
  1. Montford, 43
  2. Deerlake, 57
  3. Swift Creek, 72
  4. Raa, 101
  5. Fairview, 110
  6. Fort Braden, 179
  7. Cobb, 191
  8. Griffin, NTS
    Nims, NTS

Top 10 Girls, 2016 Montford Mustang Stampede Two Mile
  1. 13:11.42 ~ Paige Churchill (Swift Creek) 6
  2. 13:14.09 ~ Lexi Gray (Swift Creek) 8
  3. 13:36.04 ~ Amaya Jones (Raa) 8
  4. 13:45.11 ~ Sophia Harris (Montford) 6
  5. 13:45.51 ~ Layla Thompson (Deerlake) 6
  6. 13:47.92 ~ Sadie Wolfe (Montford) 7
  7. 13:54.52 ~ Elise Ferguson (Fairview) 7
  8. 14:01.25 ~ Elizabeth Sauer (Montford) 8
  9. 14:03.34 ~ Lauren Whittier (Swift Creek) 8
  10. 14:06.26 ~ Scout Causey (Deerlake) 7

Through 2016 Montford hosted four Mustang Cross Country Stampedes. Of those four meet, Swift Creek's Wes Blake ran three. Of those three outings Blake won two. Blake's second Mustang Stampede title came in the 2016 race, which he entered as the defending champion. If nothing else, the Swift Creek eighth-grader was familiar with the course.

Weston Blake, Gabriel Jager-Sumner
Weston Blake and Gabriel Jager-Sumner

Blake was in the lead soon after the start, closely followed by Fairview seventh-grader Gabriel Jager-Sumner. The two soon left the rest of the field far behind. Blake continued to set the pace, but couldn't entirely shake Jager-Sumner. With the race coming to a close, Blake put on a finishing sprint.

"Last year I made a move at the same spot," explained Blake.

Apparently Blake not only knows the Montford course, he knows how to win on it. He bolted away from Jager-Sumner, finishing first in 11:28. Jager Sumner was second in 11:38. Fairview's Nicholas Samuel outran Connor Edwards of Swift Creek for third, 12:00 to 12:02.

Nicholas Samuel
Nicholas Samuel

Swift Creek put a third runner in the top ten, Eric Stillman, who was ninth in 12:13. Trenton Blake (11th, 12:23) and Brody Miller (14th, 12:26) finished the scoring for the Wolves, and Swift Creek had 39 points and the team title. Fairview was second with 69 points, the Falcons best showing so far this season. Montford was third with 80 points.

2016 Mustang Stampede Team Standings, Boys
  1. Swift Creek, 39
  2. Fairview, 69
  3. Montford, 80
  4. Deerlake, 86
  5. Raa, 117
  6. Cobb, 144
  7. Griffin, 203
  8. Fort Braden, 260
  9. Nims, 262

Top 10 Boys, 2016 Montford Mustang Stampede Two Mile
  1. 11:27.44 ~ Weston Blake (Swift Creek) 8
  2. 11:37.16 ~ Gabriel Jager-Sumner (Fairview) 7
  3. 11:59.54 ~ Nicholas Samuel (Fairview) 8
  4. 12:01.44 ~ Connor Edwards (Swift Creek) 6
  5. 12:06.17 ~ James Fygetakis-Gollop (Raa) 7
  6. 12:08.87 ~ C.J. Derickson (Deerlake) 8
  7. 12:09.26 ~ Amarie Moore (Raa) 8
  8. 12:10.17 ~ Nate Thompson (Montford) 6
  9. 12:12.56 ~ Eric Stillman (Swift Creek) 6
  10. 12:21.93 ~ Campbell Hart (Cobb 12) 8

The Leon County Schools' middle school cross country season concludes on Wednesday, 5 October 2016, with the league championship meet on the Apalachee Regional Park Championship Cross Country Course. Even though this is Paige Churchill's first season of cross country, she's somewhat familiar with the course.

"I've heard there's like a big hill, the Wall," said Churchill. "I've practiced on that course so I know it. I won't get lost or anything!"

Swift Creek boys' cross country team
Swift Creek boys' cross country team

In his third and final year of middle school cross country, Wes Blake is more than just acquainted with the Apalachee Regional Park course, and was able to summarize it in a few words.

"I know there's a big downhill at the beginning and a big uphill at the end," he declared.

Mustang Cross-Country Stampede Champions
2013 - 2016
Girls' Two Mile
DateTeam ChampIndividual Champ
27 September 2013Swift Creek, 37 points13:42, Saige Kemeny (Montford) 7
10 September 2014Swift Creek, 3412:46, Lawton Campbell (Deerlake) 8
30 September 2015Swift Creek, 4312:25, Emily Molen (Deerlake) 8
28 September 2016Montford, 4313:12, Paige Churchill (Swift Creek) 6
Boys' Two Mile
DateTeam ChampIndividual Champ
27 September 2013Montford, 56 points11:56, Jacob Dodson (Raa) 8
10 September 2014Swift Creek, 6612:14, Tavaris King (Griffin) 8
30 September 2015Deerlake, 4311:56, Weston Blake (Swift Creek) 7
28 September 2016Swift Creek, 3911:28, Weston Blake (Swift Creek) 7


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