Saturday, September 22, 2018

Paige Churchill and Wyatt Townsend gallop into the winner's circle at the Mustang Stampede

Of the six meets in Leon County Schools' middle school cross-country season, Montford Middle Schools' Mustang Stampede probably has the most shade on the course. This was particularly appropriate at the sixth annual Mustang Stampede on Thursday afternoon, 20 September 2018, because it was quite possibly the hottest meet of the season. But Paige Churchill shrugged off the heat to win the girls' race for the third year in a row, running 11:45. In the boys' race, Deerlake eighth-grader Wyatt Townsend picked up his third straight win of the season, covering the course in 9:43. The Montford girls won the team title in their race, while Deerlake was the top team in the boys' race.

Paige Churchill
Paige Churchill

The course wasn't entirely shaded, however. Almost the entire first kilometer of the 3K route was out in the sun, including a loop around a treeless playing field.

"It's so hot out on that field!" said Paige Churchill.

Deerlake eighth-grader Maya Tang led the girls 3K for that first kilometer, with Churchill trailing closely. The race turned into the woods after that.

Maya Tang, Paige Churchill
Maya Tang and Paige Churchill

"After the field we were sprinting downhill," recalled Churchill. "I thought we were going to burn out. We ran together for a while in the woods. And then about halfway through I passed her."

After that, Churchill steadily pulled away from Tang, building up a lead of more than 50 meters before crossing the finish line, first in 11:45. Tang was second in 11:56. Leah Kiros, a Deerlake seventh-grader, overtook Swift Creek eighth-grader Stella Lewis to take third, 12:26 to 12:32.

Leah Kiros
Leah Kiros

Seventh-grader Ava Jones was Swift Creek's third runner in the top five, placing fifth in 12:40. But after Jones came a torrent of Montford athletes, with seventh grader Skye Williams sixth in 12:52, eighth-grader Livia Rose Clark eighth in 13:05, sixth-grader Mariona Heartsfield ninth in 13:16, seventh-grader Mackenzie Hulquist tenth in 13:19, and sixth-grader Sophia Youngberg eleventh in 13:20. After that wave of Mustangs, the Montford girls had edged Swift Creek for first 40 to 43. Deerlake was a close third with 51 points.

2018 Mustang Stampede Team Standings, Girls
  1. Montford, 40
  2. Swift Creek, 43
  3. Deerlake, 51
  4. Fairview, 128
  5. Raa, 138
  6. Cobb, 145
  7. Fort Braden, NTS
    Griffin, NTS
    Nims, NTS

Top 10 Girls, 2018 Montford Mustang Stampede 3K
  1. 11:44.34, Paige Churchill (Swift Creek) 8
  2. 11:55.45, Maya Tang (Deerlake) 8
  3. 12:25.53, Leah Kiros (Deerlake) 7
  4. 12:32.57, Stella Lewis (Swift Creek) 8
  5. 12:39.71, Ava Jones (Swift Creek) 7
  6. 12:51.83, Skye Williams (Montford) 7
  7. 12:56.64, Madison Sims (Fort Braden) 6
  8. 13:04.07, Livia Rose Clark (Montford) 8
  9. 13:15.23, Mariona Heartsfield (Montford) 6
  10. 13:18.32, Mackenzie Hulquist (Montford) 7

The boys' race started after 6:40 PM, by which time some of the lengthening shadows were starting to fall across the field. Wyatt Townsend was already leading the race when he got to the field. He only got farther ahead after that.

"Right after I entered the woods, or a little bit after that, the lead biker told me I had a big gap," said Townsend. "And he persisted in telling me that for the rest of the race."

Wyatt Townsend
Wyatt Townsend

It was true, though, and by the time Townsend crossed the finish line, he was close to 180 meters ahead of the next runner. It was his biggest margin of victory yet this season. The win was also an early birthday gift from Townsend to himself; he turned fourteen the day after the race.

Behind Townsend, Fairview sixth-grader Patrick Koon and Swift Creek eighth-grader Connor Edwards were in a back-and-forth battle for second. Koon had led Edwards early, but Edwards had opened a gap on Koon with a kilometer to go. During that final kilometer Koon overtook Edwards. Then, in the last 200 meters, Edwards kicked past Koon to finish runner-up in 10:20. Koon placed third in 10:22.

Connor Edwards, Patrick Koon
Connor Edwards and Patrick Koon

Four more Deerlake runners joined Townsend in the top ten--seventh grader Davis McNeely (6th, 10:52), eighth-graders Carter Rothell (8th, 11:09) and Alastair Deng (9th, 11:09), and seventh-grader Brooks Bowden (10th, 11:11). Those scorers totaled 34 points for their team, putting Deerlake first. Swift Creek was second with 50 points and Fairview third with 91.

2018 Mustang Stampede Team Standings, Boys
  1. Deerlake, 34
  2. Swift Creek, 50
  3. Fairview, 91
  4. Montford, 100
  5. Raa, 101
  6. Cobb, 198
  7. Griffin, 213
  8. Fort Braden, 221
  9. Nims, NTS

Top 10 Boys, 2018 Montford Mustang Stampede 3K
  1.   9:43.00, Wyatt Townsend (Deerlake) 8
  2. 10:19.47, Connor Edwards (Swift Creek) 8
  3. 10:21.33, Patrick Koon (Fairview) 7
  4. 10:34.26, Eric Stillman (Swift Creek) 8
  5. 10:35.19, Jackson Rowe (Montford) 7
  6. 10:51.63, Davis McNeely (Deerlake) 7
  7. 10:55.44, Yien Liu (Fairview) 7
  8. 11:08.18, Carter Rothell (Deerlake) 8
  9. 11:08.96, Alastair Deng (Deerlake) 8
  10. 11:10.19, Brooks Bowden (Deerlake) 7

Mustang Cross-Country Stampede Champions
2013 - 2018
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
28 September 2017Swift Creek, 2013:12, Paige Churchill (Swift Creek) 7
20 September 2018Montford, 4011:45, Paige Churchill (Swift Creek) 8
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
28 September 2017Deerlake, 4211:15, Ben Kirbo (Montford) 8
20 September 2018Deerlake, 349:43, Wyatt Townsend (Deerlake) 8
From 2013 to 2017, the race distance at the Mustang Stampede was two miles. In
2018 the distance was changed to three kilometers.

The middle schools of Leon County Schools continue their cross-country season on Thursday, 27 September 2018, with the Falcon Invitational, hosted by Fairview at Phipps Park. On Thursday, 4 October 2018, the season concludes with a return to Apalachee Regional Park for the league championship meet.


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