Friday, October 7, 2016

Swift Creek boys and Montford girls take the Leon County Schools cross-country championship

The Montford girls didn't win all their meets during the 2016 cross-country season. They did win most of them, though, including the one that counted the most. On Wednesday evening, 5 October 2016, the Mustangs scored 42 points to win the title at Leon County Schools' middle school championship meet, held east of Tallahassee, Florida at Apalachee Regional Park. Swift Creek sixth-grader Paige Churchill was the individual champ, running the two-mile course in 13:33. Swift Creek won the boys' event, scoring 42 points, while their ace, eighth-grader Wes Blake, posted an 11:38 to take the individual title.

Paige Churchill, Lexi Gray
Paige Churchill and Lexi Gray

Early in the previous month Hurricane Hermine had damaged the Apalachee Regional Park Cross Country course so severely that the first meet of the middle school season, the Swift Creek Invitational, had to be canceled. When the middle school athletes arrived for the Championship, though, there was no sign that a hurricane had ever passed by. The course was in near-perfect shape when the championships opened at 6:00 PM with the girls' two-mile race.

Raa's Amaya Jones, winner of the Everhart Invitational two weeks earlier, took the early lead. By 800 meters into race Jones had been overtaken by the field. At the halfway point of the race the Swift Creek duo of Paige Churchill and Lexi Gray had left the field behind.

Paige Churchill
Paige Churchill

"We kind of helped each other out and took turns pacing each other," said Churchill. "But then I passed her on the Wall."

The Wall is the Apalachee Regional Park course's infamous hill. At its crest, Churchill was five-seconds ahead of Gray. That margin widened on the way to finish line, which Churchill crossed first in 13:33 and Gray second in 13:43. Amaya Jones kicked pas Brooke Waldal of Deerlake to take third, 14:02 to 14:04. Montford runners Sadie Wolfe and Sophia Harris trailed in fifth and sixth, both clocked in 14:05.

2016 Montford Middle School girls' cross-country team.
Montford Mustangs girls' team

Montford also had a top ten finish from Elizabeth Sauer, eighth in 14:10. Jessa Stewart (12th, 14:21) and Ella Grace Hodges (13th, 14:24) finished the scoring for Montford, giving the Mustangs 44 points and the 2016 Leon County Schools title. It was the third win in the four-meet season for the Montford girls. Deerlake was a close second with 50 points. Swift Creek, the 2015 champions, were third with 67.

Team Standings, Girls
  1. Montford, 44 points
  2. Deerlake, 50
  3. Swift Creek, 67
  4. Raa, 95
  5. Fairview, 111
  6. Fort Braden, 174
  7. Cobb, 197
  8. Griffin, NTS
    Nims, NTS

Lexi GrayTop 15 Girls
  1. 13:32.11 ~ Paige Churchill (Swift Creek) 6
  2. 13:42.45 ~ Lexi Gray (Swift Creek) 8
  3. 14:01.32 ~ Amaya Jones (Raa) 8
  4. 14:03.52 ~ Brooke Waldal (Deerlake) 8
  5. 14:04.09 ~ Sadie Wolfe (Montford) 7
  6. 14:05.00 ~ Sophia Harris (Montford) 6
  7. 14:07.71 ~ Lauren Whittier (Swift Creek) 8
  8. 14:09.43 ~ Elizabeth Sauer (Montford) 8
  9. 14:13.19 ~ Scout Causey (Deerlake) 7
  10. 14:14.82 ~ Layla Thompson (Deerlake) 6
  11. 14:15.71 ~ McKenna Swartzman (Deerlake) 8
  12. 14:20.29 ~ Jessa Stewart (Montford) 8
  13. 14:23.46 ~ Ella Grace Hodges (Montford) 7
  14. 14:24.22 ~ Kellett Snyder (Montford) 7
  15. 14:24.93 ~ Lilli Unger (Raa) 8

Soon after the start of the boys' two-mile race Swift Creek eighth-grader Wes Blake and Fairview seventh-grader Gabriel Jager-Sumner were out in front. They dueled back and forth until 400 meters to go, when Blake pulled away. Jager-Sumner didn't come back this time, and Blake won the race in 11:38, becoming the Leon County Schools 2016 middle school cross country champion. Jager-Sumner was second in 11:44. Raa eighth-grader Amarie Moore took third in 12:10.

Wes Blake, Gabriel Jager-Sumner
Gabriel Jager-Sumner and Wes Blake

Eric Stillman was the second scorer for Swift Creek, placing fourth in 12:12. After Swift Creek got scoring performances from Jordan Logsdon (12th, 12:37), Trenton Blake (13th, 12:39), and Brody Miller (14th, 12:40), the Wolves had 44 points and the team title. Fairview was second with 73 points and Deerlake third with 88. Montford, champions in 2015, were fourth with 100.

"It felt longer than last year for some reason," said Wes Blake after the race.

Swift Creek Middle School's 2016 boys' cross country team
Swift Creek Wolves boys' team

That's a paradox, because Blake spent less time on the course than in 2015, running three seconds faster. It was the end of a perfect season for him, four wins in four outings. It was also his fifth straight cross-country victory since the Miller Landing Madness on 20 August 2016. In three years of running cross-country at Swift Creek, Blake had competed in twelve races for the Wolves and won six. He took it in stride.

"I'm just happy to take first in my last race," he said. "I'm looking forward to racing in high school."

Amarie Moore
Amarie Moore

Lincoln High will be glad to have him. The Lincoln Trojans will also be happy to hear the Lexi Gray, runner-up in the girls' race, is also looking forward to high school cross-country. This is Gray's first year of running, but she is already planning on running track in the spring. Girls' champ Paige Churchill is not so keen on the idea of track, though.

"I don't think I'm going to do track," said Churchill. "I want to play middle school soccer but I don't think I want to do track."

She might be agreeable to one more cross country race this year, though.

"I'm thinking of running at Holy Comforter on Thursday [13 October 2016]," said Churchill.

Team Standings, Boys
  1. Swift Creek, 44 points
  2. Fairview, 73
  3. Deerlake, 88
  4. Montford, 100
  5. Raa, 115
  6. Cobb, 132
  7. Griffin, 210
  8. Nims, 245
  9. Fort Braden, 253

Eric StillmanTop 15 Boys
  1. 11:37.73 ~ Weston Blake (Swift Creek) 8
  2. 11:43.41 ~ Gabriel Jager-Sumner (Fairview) 7
  3. 12:09.66 ~ Amarie Moore (Raa) 8
  4. 12:11.14 ~ Eric Stillman (Swift Creek) 6
  5. 12:11.34 ~ Nicholas Samuel (Fairview) 8
  6. 12:21.24 ~ C. J. Derickson (Deerlake) 8
  7. 12:25.30 ~ Khary Wright (Cobb) 7
  8. 12:26.99 ~ Campbell Hart (Cobb) 8
  9. 12:28.70 ~ Filipo Aldrovandi-Reina (Fairview) 7
  10. 12:31.04 ~ James Fygetakis-Gollop (Raa) 7
  11. 12:32.18 ~ Nate Thompson (Montford) 6
  12. 12:36.96 ~ Jordan Logsdon (Swift Creek) 8
  13. 12:38.90 ~ Trenton Blake (Swift Creek) 6
  14. 12:39.34 ~ Brody Miller (Swift Creek) 7
  15. 12:39.72 ~ Kyle Spratt (Swift Creek) 7

2016 Leon County Schools
Middle School Cross-Country Season Summary
MeetTeam ChampIndividual Champ
Fort Braden (Story)
14 Sep 2016
Deerlake, 4214:05, Paige Churchill (Swift Creek) 6
Everhart (Story)
22 Sep 2016
Montford, 3813:51, Amaya Jones (Raa) 8
Montford (Story)
28 Sep 2016
Montford, 4313:12, Paige Churchill (Swift Creek) 6
Championship (Story)
1 Oct 2016
Montford, 4413:33, Paige Churchill (Swift Creek) 6
MeetTeam ChampIndividual Champ
Fort Braden (Story)
14 Sep 2016
Swift Creek, 2311:50, Weston Blake (Swift Creek) 8
Everhart (Story)
22 Sep 2016
Swift Creek, 4111:47, Weston Blake (Swift Creek) 8
Montford (Story)
28 Sep 2016
Swift Creek, 3911:28, Weston Blake (Swift Creek) 7
Championship (Story)
5 Oct 2016
Swift Creek, 4411:38, Weston Blake (Swift Creek) 8
The scheduled season opener, the Swift Creek Invitational on 7 September 2016,
was canceled because of damage to the Apalachee Regional Park course from
Hurricane Hermine.

Leon County Schools Middle School Cross-Country Championships
Apalachee Regional Park, 2010 - 2016
DateTeam ChampIndividual Champ
6 Oct 2010Raa, 3213:34, Rebecca Clendinen (Raa) 8
28 Sep 2011Swift Creek, 3113:24, Zoe Sheldon (Swift Creek) 7
26 Sep 2012Swift Creek, 3612:49, Audrey Dogan (Raa) 8
2 Oct 2013Swift Creek, 4313:00, Ana Wallace (Deerlake) 8
1 Oct 2014Deerlake, 3612:12, Lawton Campbell (Deerlake) 8
7 Oct 2015Swift Creek, 3512:08, Emily Molen (Deerlake) 8
5 Oct 2016Montford, 4413:33, Paige Churchill (Swift Creek) 6
DateTeam ChampIndividual Champ
6 Oct 2010Raa, 2411:35, Wil Luca (Raa) 8
28 Sep 2011Raa, 5811:42, Evan Francis (Raa) 8
26 Sep 2012Montford, 5611:49, Matthew Cashin (Raa) 8
2 Oct 2013Montford, 3711:19, Jacob Dodson (Raa) 8
1 Oct 2014Fairview, 4411:59, Tavaris King (Griffin) 8
7 Oct 2015Montford, 5011:34, Nile Bryant (Raa) 8
5 Oct 2016Swift Creek, 4411:38, Weston Blake (Swift Creek) 8
Note: LCS held middle-school cross-country championships before 2010.
This table summarizes the history of the championship at ARPXC.


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