Friday, October 14, 2016

Maclay, Holy Comforter split titles at Tallahassee Open

The meadows behind Tallahassee, Florida's Holy Comforter Episcopal School seem made for cross-country running. That's exactly what they were used for on Thursday afternoon, 13 October 2016, when Holy Comforter hosted the Tallahassee Open Middle School Cross-Country Meet. Maclay eighth-grader Lindsay James won the girls' 3K race in 11:35, leading her Marauder team to the meet title. Seventh-grader Jackson Yarbrough of Holy Comforter ran 11:05 for first in the boys' 3K event, where Holy Comforter was the top team.

Lindsay James
Lindsay James

In 2016 alone, Tallahassee hosts the state high school championship in cross-country, the NCAA South Region championship, and Florida's state championship for junior colleges. For the community runners there are high-profile events like the Pine Run 20K and the Run For Lawson 10K and 5K. Amid all this cross-country, the sport at the middle school level could easily be overlooked. But middle school cross-country in Tallahassee is thriving. Just the week before the meet at Holy Comforter, Leon County Schools' held a middle school champ cross-country championship at Apalachee Regional Park, the climax of a four-meet season. The Tallahassee Open was the second of two meets held at Holy Comforter in 2016. To name three athletes who ran middle school cross-country in Tallahassee, Lily Williams, Avery Bartlett, and Sukhi Khosla each won multiple state titles in high school cross-country or track, and each went on to compete for NCAA Division I universities. Middle school cross-country doesn't have to be a springboard to success in the sport at the high school or college level, though. It's a great experience in itself.


The running at Holy Comforter started just after 4:00 PM with the girls' 3K . Before the scramble to the first turn was over, Lindsay James of Maclay was leading. It wasn’t her first run on the course.


"This is my third time running here," said James. "Twice in sixth grade and once this year."

Paige Churchill
Paige Churchill

It was also her fastest run at Holy Comforter. Unchallenged during the race, James went on to win by nearly a minute in 11:35. Behind her, though, a struggle for second developed among three sixth-graders--Ella Porcher and Sofia Paredes of Maclay, and Paige Churchill. With a kilometer to go the three had left behind the other runners pursuing James, with Churchill setting the pace for the group. Just after the last turn, though, Porcher and Paredes flashed by Churchill to take second and third, both Maclay runners clocked in 12:28. Churchill was fourth in 12:29.


Kate Smith of Holy Comforter also interrupted the flood of Maclay runners, placing fifth in 12:39. But Maclay's scorers took the next two places, with Madison Perkins finishing sixth in 12:55 and Madeline Lillie seventh in 12:57. After that, Maclay had a near-perfect score of 17 points and the Marauders were going to have to make space for another team trophy. Holy Comforter was second with 40 points and the Montford Mustangs Running Club placed third with 64.

Maclay Girls
Maclay Girls

Lindsay James won't have a lot of time to sit back and savor this win; she also races on Maclay's high school squad.


"I will run District next Tuesday," said James. "This was kind of a tempo run for me today."


After that there's the middle school state championship in Lakeland, Florida, but that comes with a scheduling conflict.


"I kind of wanted to go, but then I found out that [high school] Region is in the same time frame," said James. "I just missed out on a medal at State last year so I wanted to go back and redeem myself."


Girls' Team Standings, 2016 Tallahassee Open Middle School XC Championship
  1. Maclay, 17
  2. Holy Comforter, 40
  3. Mustangs Running Club, 64
  4. Cornerstone, 126
  5. Riversprings, 130

Top 10 Girls, 2016 Tallahassee Open Middle School XC Championship
  1. 11:34.23 ~ Lindsay James (Maclay) 8
  2. 12:27.57 ~ Ella Porcher (Maclay) 6
  3. 12:27.96 ~ Sofia Paredes (Maclay) 6
  4. 12:28.23 ~ Paige Churchill (Unattached) 6
  5. 12:38.36 ~ Kate Smith (Holy Comforter) 7
  6. 12:54.10 ~ Madison Perkins (Maclay) 8
  7. 12:56.59 ~ Madeline Lillie (Maclay) 7
  8. 12:59.18 ~ Camille Resavage (Holy Comforter) 6
  9. 13:18.84 ~ Katelyn Dessi (Holy Comforter) 8
  10. 13:20.24 ~ Elizabeth Sauer (Mustangs Running Club) 8

Jackson Yarbrough
Jackson Yarbrough

There was no runaway winner in the boys' 3K race, which took to the course at 3:30 PM after the girls were finished. After the first kilometer, a lead pack of six runners had emerged, Jackson Jones, Leo Kelly, Ben Kirbo, and Jackson Yarbrough of Holy Comforter, plus Nicholas Samuel of Fairview and Patrick Koon of the Tallahassee School of Arts & Sciences. At the two kilometer mark all six were still up front, running in a tight bunch. Yarbrough hadn't expected to be there.


"I was really just trying to keep up with Ben and Leo, who usually beat me by half a minute," explained Yarbrough.

Nicholas Samuel
Nicholas Samuel

Jackson Jones was the first to drop off the pace, falling back with a kilometer to do. Patrick Koon was next. With the finish line looming, Jackson Yarbrough and Ben Kirbo broke away from Nicholas Samuel and Leo Kelly. Around the final turn Yarbrough and Kirbo were still together, fighting all the way to the end of the race. Yarbrough won by inches.


"I beat him like by...barely!" said Yarbrough.


Yarbrough's time was 11:04.07 and Kirbo's a fractionally slower 11:04.26. Fairview's Samuel was third in 11:08 and Holy Comforter's Kelly fourth in 11:11. Koon took fifth in 11:18 and Jones sixth in 11:18.

Holy Comforter Boys
Holy Comforter Boys

Wilson Roberts finished the scoring for Holy Comforter, placing ninth in 12:15. That gave the Crusaders 17 points and the boys' team title. Maclay was second with 49 points and Christ Classical Academy third with 74.


Boys' Team Standings, 2016 Tallahassee Open Middle School XC Championship
  1. Holy Comforter, 17
  2. Maclay, 49
  3. Christ Classical, 74
  4. Trinity Catholic, 112
  5. Cornerstone, 135

Top 10 Boys, 2016 Tallahassee Open Middle School XC Championship
  1. 11:04.07 ~ Jackson Yarbrough (Holy Comforter) 7
  2. 11:04.26 ~ Ben Kirbo (Holy Comforter) 7
  3. 11:07.39 ~ Nicholas Samuel (Unattached) 8
  4. 11:10.53 ~ Leo Kelly (Holy Comforter) 7
  5. 11:17.71 ~ Patrick Koon (Arts & Sciences) 5
  6. 11:22.03 ~ Jackson Jones (Holy Comforter) 8
  7. 12:10.68 ~ Drew Whitfield (Maclay) 6
  8. 12:12.99 ~ Aiden Van Iddekinge (Maclay) 6
  9. 12:14.90 ~ Wilson Roberts (Holy Comforter) 8
  10. 12:19.73 ~ Clayton Knox (Maclay) 6

Tallahassee Open winners, 2014 - 2016
Boys
DateTeam ChampIndividual Champ
23 October 2014Maclay, 189:42, Clayburn Milford (Maclay) 8
15 October 2015Holy Comforter, 2710:25, Jacob D'Aleo (Emerald Coast) 8
13 October 2016Holy Comforter, 1711:05, Jackson Yarbrough (Holy Comforter) 7
Girls
DateTeam ChampIndividual Champ
23 October 2014Holy Comforter, 2711:28, Katherine Resavage (Holy Comforter) 8
15 October 2015Holy Comforter, 2111:23, Emily Molen (Deerlake) 8
13 October 2016Maclay, 1711:35, Lindsay James (Maclay) 8

Links
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