Friday, September 22, 2017

Paige Churchill and Ben Kirbo get their first Everhart Invitational wins

The middle school cross-country teams of Leon County Schools gathered at Gretchen Everhart School on Thursday morning, 21 September 2017, for the 31st Everhart Invitational. In the girls' two-mile, Swift Creek seventh-grader Paige Churchill picked up her third win this season, while Ben Kirbo, a Montford eighth-grader, won the boys' two-mile race. In the team competition, the Swift Creek girls got their second win in a row and the Deerlake boys remained perfect on the season, picking up their third win in three outings.

Paige Churchill, Maya Tang
Paige Churchill & Maya Tang

As a sixth-grader, in 2016 Paige Churchill had won three of the four races in her first Leon County Schools cross-country season. Those victories had included the girls' County Championship race. The one event she didn't win was the girls' two-mile at the Everhart Invitational, the oldest middle school meet in Tallahassee if not in the entire state of Florida. In 2017 she was back for a second try.


The race started just after 10:30 AM. It wasn't Churchill setting the early pace for the field, though. Another seventh-grader, Deerlake's Maya Tang, was up front.

Maya Tang, Paige Churchill
Maya Tang & Paige Churchill

"She was pretty much leading the whole race," said Churchill. "I just tried to stay with her and kick at the end. She's a good runner."


Through the schoolyard and onto the streets around Gretchen Everhart School, Churchill trailed Tang. Finally, Churchill made her move.


"It was right before the finish coming up the hill," recalled Churchill.

Elise Ferguson
Elise Ferguson

That was back in the schoolyard, going up a grassy slope with 400 meters to go in the race. Churchill put some daylight between herself and Tang at the base of the hill, then widened the margin during the climb. 200 meters from the finish the course turned back downhill, and Churchill scampered home with a 13:45 win. Tang took second in 13:56. Swift Creek eighth-grader Elise Ferguson was third in 14:03, and Montford seventh-grader Livia Rose Clark placed fourth in 14:11.


Swift Creek had two more girls in the top ten--sixth-grader Ava Jones was sixth in 14:39 and seventh-grader Stella Lewis placed seventh in 14:41. Swift Creek's fifth scorer was seventh-grader Alima Hemenway, giving the team 28 points and first place out of the eight schools in the race. Deerlake placed second with 37 points and Montford was third with 75 points.


2017 Everhart Invitational Team Standings, Girls
  1. Swift Creek, 28
  2. Deerlake, 37
  3. Montford, 75
  4. Raa, 134
  5. Cobb, 163
  6. Fairview, 168
  7. Fort Braden, 169
  8. Griffin, 213

Top Ten Girls, 2017 Everhart Invitational
  1. 13:44.32, Paige Churchill (Swift Creek) 7
  2. 13:55.30, Maya Tang (Deerlake) 7
  3. 14:02.71, Elise Ferguson (Swift Creek) 8
  4. 14:10.46, Livia Rose Clark (Montford) 7
  5. 14:33.19, Nicole Kelly (Deerlake) 7
  6. 14:38.09, Ava Jones (Swift Creek) 6
  7. 14:40.44, Stella Lewis (Swift Creek) 7
  8. 14:53.26, Kendall Meyer (Deerlake) 8
  9. 14:53.85, Leah Kiros (Deerlake) 6
  10. 14:54.17, Skye Williams (Montford) 6

As a seventh-grader, Churchill is in her second year of middle school cross-country on the Leon County Schools circuit. Although Ben Kirbo is an eighth-grader with some cross-country experience, 2017 is his first year racing in the Leon County Schools league.

Ben Kirbo
Ben Kirbo

"I ran for Holy Comforter last year," explained Kirbo.


Holy Comforter Episcopal School isn't in the Leon County Schools system, but the school has one of the hilliest three-kilometer cross-country courses in town. Kirbo has done a lot of running on that course.


"Last year training on hills helped me a lot," said Kirbo. "I developed a strategy for hills, and now that's my strength."

Wyatt Townsend
Wyatt Townsend

Half a mile into the race, Kirbo was running in sixth place. At the mile mark, Deerlake seventh-grader Wyatt Townsend had the lead, with Fairview sixth-grader Patrick Koon in second and Kirbo running third. But at the mile mark the course started heading uphill, taking the runners past a water table on their way to a U-turn. Kirbo made a move going up the slope.


"Everyone was slowing down for the water table, but my coach had told me not take on any water so I gained on them," said Kirbo. "At the turnaround I moved into first. And stayed there."

Patrick Koon, Ben Kirbo
Patrick Koon & Ben Kirbo

Koon was still with Kirbo with half a mile to go, but over the next quarter mile Kirbo broke contact, re-entering the schoolyard in command of the race. Kirbo finished strong over the last quarter mile, racing across the finish line in a winning 11:41. It was the fastest time on the Everhart course since the 2010 race, when Wil Luca of Raa also ran 11:41. Townsend overtook Koon on the homestretch to take second in 11:55. Koon was third in 11:56, and Swift Creek seventh-grader Connor Edwards was fourth in 12:10. Deerlake eighth-grader Filippo Reina, winner of the previous week's Fort Braden Run, placed fifth in 12:11.


Townsend and Reina were joined in the top ten by Deerlake eighth-graders William Wilkerson (8th, 12:36) and Matt Reynolds (9th, 12:39). Another Deerlake eighth-grader, Grant Gallagaer, placed sixteenth in 13:07, giving Deerlake 40 points and first place out of nine teams. The 2016 champs, Swift Creek, were second with 57 points. Montford took third with 80 points.

Fillippo Reina, Connor Edwards, James Fygetakis-Gollop
Fillippo Reina, Connor Edwards, & James Fygetakis-Gollop

After the Everhart Invitational, Leon County Schools middle school cross-country runners head to Montford Middle School for the fifth annual Mustang Stampede on Thursday evening, 28 September 2017. Only six days after that, on Wednesday evening, 4 October 2017, the season closes with the Leon County Schools Middle School Cross-Country Championship at Apalachee Regional Park. The championship had originally been scheduled for Thursday, 5 October 2017.


2017 Everhart Invitational Team Standings, Boys
  1. Deerlake, 40
  2. Swift Creek, 57
  3. Montford, 80
  4. Raa, 105
  5. Cobb, 108
  6. Fairview, 147
  7. Fort Braden, 226
  8. Griffin, 256
  9. Nims, 265

Top Ten Boys, 2017 Everhart Invitational
  1. 11:40.33, Ben Kirbo (Montford) 8
  2. 11:54.32, Wyatt Townsend (Deerlake) 7
  3. 11:55.27, Patrick Koon (Fairview) 6
  4. 12:09.74, Connor Edwards (Swift Creek) 7
  5. 12:10.21, Filippo Reina (Deerlake) 8
  6. 12:10.85, James Fygetakis-Gollop (Raa) 8
  7. 12:19.24, Eric Stillman (Swift Creek) 7
  8. 12:36.00, William Wilkerson (Deerlake) 8
  9. 12:38.66, Matt Reynolds (Deerlake) 8
  10. 12:39.78, Nate Thompson (Montford) 7

Everhart Invitational Champions, 1988 - 2017
DateBoysGirls
21 September 2017Ben Kirbo (Montford) 11:41Paige Churchill (Swift Creek) 13:45
22 September 2016Weston Blake (Swift Creek) 11:47Amaya Jones (Raa) 13:51
17 September 2015Spencer Amsellem (Deerlake) 12:17Emily Molen (Deerlake) 12:16
18 September 2014Tavaris King (Griffin) 12:04Lawton Campbell (Deerlake) 12:41
19 September 2013Jacob Dodson (Raa) 11:46Ana Wallace (Deerlake) 13:13
20 September 2012Matthew Cashin (Raa) 12:01Saige Kemeny (Montford) 13:19
22 September 2011Evan Francis (Raa) 11:56Zoe Sheldon (Swift Creek) 13:43
30 September 2010Wil Luca (Raa) 11:41Rebecca Clendinen (Raa) 13:57
1 October 2009Cade Zimmerman (Deerlake) 11:33Cece Williams (Deerlake) 13:26
25 September 2008Will Henderson (Raa) 11:42Cece Williams (Deerlake) 11:56
27 September 2007Will Henderson (Raa) 12:11Carly Thomas (Raa) 12:27
28 September 2006Will Stanford (Raa) 10:59Summer Shepherd (Raa) 12:59
29 September 2005Kurt Dietrich (Swift Creek) 12:07Jana Stolting (Deerlake) 13:26
30 September 2004Graham Hawkes (Cobb) 11:51Mallory Alonzo (Raa) 14:01
2 October 2003Joe Franklin (Griffin) 11:38Charlotte Murrell (Cobb) 14:17
3 October 2002Bryan Miletich (Deerlake) 11:51Julia Bryant (Deerlake) 14:06
4 October 2001Kevin Bryant (Raa) 12:33Karen Devick (Raa) 13:58
4 October 2000Danny Sass (Deerlake) 13:04LaShaunta Arnold (Fairview) 14:50
1 October 1999Logan Wolcott (Raa) 12:52LaShaunta Arnold (Fairview) 14:30
13 October 1998Matt Varn (Swift Creek) 12:31Allie Hunter (Swift Creek) 14:27
1997Anthony Washington (Bellevue) 12:26Allie Hunter (Swift Creek) 15:00
1996
6 October 1995Bryan Hendricks (Cobb) 8:15*Meredith Warren (Raa) 10:36*
6 October 1994Kevin Anderson (Deerlake) 8:10*Meredith Warren (Raa) 9:56*
20 October 1993
20 October 1992Mark Roehl (Raa) 8:40*Brianne Pla (Cobb) 9:33*
22 October 1991Michael Rodriguez (Raa) 8:38*Holly Skinner (Cobb) 10:15*
10 October 1990Tim Bolton (Cobb) 8:44*Christy Weinberger(Bellevue)10:17*
24 May 1990Wayne McDaniel (Raa) 6:58†Cynthia Costin (Griffin) 8:06†
23 May 1989Wayne McDaniel (Raa) 7:09†Tonia Jackson (Nims) 8:13†
10 May 1988Bobby Jessup (Griffin) †Tonia Jackson (Raa) †
* 1-1/2 mile race at Gretchen Everhart School
† 2 km race at Florida State University


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