Saturday, October 8, 2016

Phillips and Churchill impress the hometown crowd at the FSU Invitational

The Florida State University cross country team has been hosting the FSU Invitational since 1972 and the meet has included high school events since 1974. The Invitational has been held on the old FSU Dairy Farm, the Seminole Golf Course, the Miccosukee Greenway, and most recently the Apalachee Regional Park Cross Country Course. Whatever the venue, the Seminoles have done such a good job of bringing teams to Tallahassee that they often lose their own invitational, and athletes from local schools seldom win the high school races. That wasn't the case, though, on Saturday morning, 8 October 2016, at the 45th annual FSU Invitational. Tallahassee Chiles junior Michael Phillips ran 15:28 to win the first race of the morning, the high school boys' elite 5K. Right after that, wunderfrosh Alyson Churchill of Tallahassee Lincoln won the high school girls' Elite 5K in 18:07.

Boys' Elite 5K
Boys' Elite 5K

Saturday's racing started at 7:40 AM, just five minutes after sunrise, with the high school boys' elite 5K. In the dim morning light, Hernando junior Trevor Foley led the field east toward the rising sun. By the mile mark, though, the race had turned back west and Foley had been overtaken.

The second mile belonged to Michael Phillips. The Chiles junior had run repeats on that mile during a workout with his team earlier in the week, covering every hill and turn four times. That included four trips up the infamous uphill, the Wall. By the first time up the Wall on race day, Phillips was in the lead, shadowed by Joshua Collins, a Belen Jesuit junior.

During the second half of the race Phillips and Collins left the rest of the field farther and farther behind. Collins refused to go away, but he could never catch Phillips, and the Chiles junior took the FSU Invitational title in 15:28. Collins was second in 15:31.

Girls' Elite 5K
Girls' Elite 5K

Marist senior Quinn Burden edged Matthew Newland of Chiles for third, 15:57 to 15:58. With first and fourth, the Chiles Timberwolves were off to a great start on their team score. But the Marist War Eagles answered with David Reteneller (7th, 16:10), William O'Reilly (13th, 16:32), Knox Pittman (16th, 16:40), and Leif Andersen (17th, 16:41). With that, the War Eagles had a winning 49 points and were taking the team trophy home to Atlanta, Georgia. Chiles was second with 90 points and Belen Jesuit third with 116.

Team Standings, 2016 FSU Invitational High School Boys' Elite 5K
  1. Marist, 49
  2. Chiles, 90
  3. Belen Jesuit, 116
  4. Estero, 137
  5. Steinbrenner, 171
  6. Niceville, 246
  7. South Walton, 257
  8. Wharton, 268
  9. Peachtree Ridge, 279
  10. Robinson, 280
  11. Maclay, 320
  12. Wakulla, 327
  13. Sarasota, 330
  14. Leon, 353
  15. Plant, 386
  16. Lincoln, 399
  17. Bleckley County, 414
  18. Carrollton, 454
  19. Pace, 455
  20. Spanish Fort, 486
  21. Pensacola Catholic, 491

Top Ten Athletes, 2016 FSU Invitational High School Boys' Elite 5K
  1. 15:27.80 ~ Michael Phillips (Chiles) 11
  2. 15:30.90 ~ Joshua Collins (Belen Jesuit) 11
  3. 15:56.70 ~ Quinn Burden (Marist) 12
  4. 15:57.60 ~ Matthew Newland (Chiles) 11
  5. 15:59.00 ~ Chase Condra (Peachtree Ridge) 10
  6. 16:09.20 ~ Trevor Foley (Hernando) 11
  7. 16:09.60 ~ David Reteneller (Marist) 11
  8. 16:13.00 ~ Matthew Cashin (Leon) 12
  9. 16:15.60 ~ Carl Ellis Corley (Bleckley County) 12
  10. 16:18.80 ~ Terrance Sessoms (Sandalwood) 12

Alyson Churchill
Alyson Churchill

In the girls' 5K, Alyson Churchill went straight to the front, much like Trevor Foley had done in the boys' race. But unlike Foley, Churchill was still leading at the mile mark. Like Michael Phillips, the winner of the earlier race, Churchill had a lot of experience on the Apalachee Regional Park course. The Lincoln frosh had been racing there ever since first taking up cross-country at Swift Creek Middle School. The Wall may not have been her friend, but at least it was familiar to her.

Amanda Beach
Amanda Beach

After two miles Churchill was even farther ahead. Over the final half kilometer she started to look tired, and Melbourne Central Catholic senior Amanda Beach began to narrow the gap. Churchill's lead proved insurmountable, though, and the Lincoln runner won the race in 18:07, her best time since the Bearcat Invitational. Beach was second in 18:16, and Colquitt County junior Elizabeth Funderburk took third in 18:25.

Elizabeth Funderburk
Elizabeth Funderburk

Abbie Harrelson of Niceville placed fourth in 18:45, starting the scoring for the Eagles. She was joined by Ally Woodward (14th, 19:14), Alexis Sherwin (16th, 19:18), Jayden Horne (25th, 19:44), and Ciara Coger (26th, 19:44). Those five Eagles gave Niceville 61 points and the team title. Behind the tenth place finish of sophomore Alexandra Straumann, Tampa Steinbrenner was second with 70 points. Marist was second with 70 points, led by junior Jose Wirtz (11th, 10:05). Chiles High, the defending state champions in class 3A, were fourth with 111.

Team Standings, 2016 FSU Invitational High School Girls' Elite 5K
  1. Niceville, 61
  2. Steinbrenner, 70
  3. Marist, 108
  4. Chiles, 111
  5. Plant, 165
  6. Maclay, 208
  7. Lincoln, 251
  8. Sarasota, 263
  9. Wharton, 281
  10. Estero, 302
  11. Peachtree Ridge, 313
  12. Holy Trinity, 337
  13. Spanish Fort, 345
  14. Eastside, 352
  15. Leon, 381
  16. Robinson, 420
  17. Pace, 430
  18. P.K. Yonge, 479
  19. Southland, 487
  20. South Walton, 529

Top Ten Athletes, 2016 FSU Invitational High School Girls' Elite 5K
  1. 18:06.70 ~ Alyson Churchill (Lincoln) 9
  2. 18:15.40 ~ Amanda Beach (Melbourne Central Catholic) 12
  3. 18:24.60 ~ Elizabeth Funderburk (Colquitt County) 11
  4. 18:44.50 ~ Abbie Harrelson (Niceville) 12
  5. 18:46.90 ~ Kayla Easterly (North Fort Myers) 12
  6. 18:48.20 ~ Kara Funke (Leesburg) 12
  7. 18:48.60 ~ Ana Wallace (Chiles) 11
  8. 18:53.00 ~ Laura Jones (Plant) 12
  9. 18:56.50 ~ Samantha Folio (Holy Trinity) 12
  10. 18:57.80 ~ Alexandra Straumann (Steinbrenner) 10


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