Thursday, September 13, 2018

Maya Tang and Wyatt Townsend excel at Everhart

Behind Gretchen Everhart School, Appleyard Drive is on a slope. Runners go up this slope during the three-kilometer races at the Everhart Invitational Middle School Cross-Country Meet. At the 32nd Invitational, on Thursday morning, 13 Septemeber 2018, a Deerlake Middle School coach took up a station on this hill.

"You own this hill!" he called to his athletes. "This is just the Deerlake hill! We run this every day!"

Maya Tang
Maya Tang

He may have been right. Deerlake's Maya Tang won the girls' race, and Wyatt Townsend of Deerlake was first in the boys' race. Swift Creek may have edged Deerlake for the girls' team title, but the Deerlake boys were the top team in their race.

The Everhart Invitational was the third event of the six-meet season for the middle school cross-country teams of Leon County Schools. Maya Tang had won the girls' race at the opening meet at Apalachee Regional Park, while Paige Churchill had taken the girls' title in the second meet at Fort Braden. The Everhart Invitational wasn't just the third match-up for the two eighth-graders; it was also a rematch of the 2017 Everhart race. Churchill and Tang had battled step for step most of the way that year before Churchill broke away late in the race to take first. The 2018 girls' 3K started out much the same, with Tang and Churchill together out in front of the rest of the field. As the Deerlake coach had noted, Tang was ready for any hills.

Maya Tang, Paige Churchill
Maya Tang and Paige Churchill

"On Tuesdays we do hill repeats," said Tang. "Ten of them on this really big hill on our field."

"I was expecting Paige to be up there the whole time," continued Tang. "I was hoping to get her at the end."

Paige Churchill
Paige Churchill

Instead, Tang opened a gap on Churchill about midway through the race. That margin widened on the way up the hill on Appleyard, and grew even more on the way down. At the finish line on the grounds of Everhart School, Tang crossed first in 12:16. Churchill was second in 12:40. Stella Lewis, a Swift Creek eighth-grader, took third in 12:56. Swift Creek had a third scorer in the top ten, seventh-grader Ava Jones (6th, 13:22). Seventh-grader Elizabeth Kessler (12th, 14:03) and sixth-grader Aza Hampton (20th, 14:43) finished the scoring for the Wolves, giving their squad 41 points and the team title. Deerlake was a close second with 44 points, and Montford third with 46.

2018 Everhart Invitational Team Standings, Girls
  1. Swift Creek, 41
  2. Deerlake, 44
  3. Montford, 46
  4. Raa, 120
  5. Fairview, 129
  6. Cobb, 142

Top Ten Girls, 2018 Everhart Invitational
  1. 12:15.90, Maya Tang (Deerlake) 8
  2. 12:39.99, Paige Churchill (Swift Creek) 8
  3. 12:55.50, Stella Lewis (Swift Creek) 8
  4. 13:07.95, Leah Kiros (Deerlake) 7
  5. 13:17.05, Skye Williams (Montford) 7
  6. 13:21.48, Ava Jones (Swift Creek) 7
  7. 13:34.88, MacKenzie Hulquist (Montford) 7
  8. 13:40.12, Livia Rose Clark (Montford) 8
  9. 13:42.33, Sophia Youngberg (Montford) 6
  10. 13:48.08, Copeland Frazee (Deerlake) 7

Deerlake eighth-grader Wyatt Townsend grabbed the lead early in the boys' race. For the first half of the race, though, he was closely followed by Connor Edwards, a Swift Creek eighth-grader. When Edwards fell back, Fairview seventh-grader Patrick Koon took over the pursuit. Townsend and Koon had dueled for the runner-up spot in the 2017 Everhart Invitational.

Wyatt Townsend
Wyatt Townsend

"I was concerned about him," said Townsend. "I was scared the whole way, until the last turn. I looked back, saw him, and thought, 'I got this.'"

He did. Townsend finished first in 10:46, with Koon following in 11:00. Edwards placed third in 11:17.

Patrick Koon
Patrick Koon

In addition to Townsend, Deerlake had three more runners in the top ten--seventh grader Davis McNeely (5th, 11:36), eighth graders Carter Rothell (7th, 11:53) and Alastair Deng (8th, 11:57), and seventh-grader Brooks Bowden (12:01). Those five runners totalled 30 points for Deerlake, giving the Bucks first place in the team standings. Swift Creek was second with 43 points and Fairview third with 71.

2018 Everhart Invitational Team Standings, Boys
  1. Deerlake, 30
  2. Swift Creek, 43
  3. Fairview, 71
  4. Montford, 113
  5. Raa, 114
  6. Fort Braden, 193
  7. Cobb, 201
  8. Griffin, 216

Top Ten Boys, 2018 Everhart Invitational
  1. 10:45.32, Wyatt Townsend (Deerlake) 8
  2. 10:59.92, Patrick Koon (Fairview) 7
  3. 11:16.81, Connor Edwards (Swift Creek) 8
  4. 11:34.64, Jackson Rowe (Montford) 7
  5. 11:35.08, Davis McNeely (Deerlake) 7
  6. 11:49.40, Yien Liu (Fairview) 7
  7. 11:52.92, Carter Rothell (Deerlake) 8
  8. 11:56.20, Alastair Deng (Deerlake) 8
  9. 12:00.05, Brooks Bowden (Deerlake) 7
  10. 12:01.26, Eric Stillman (Swift Creek) 8

There have been 32 runnings of the Everhart Invitational, and the event has certainly changed over the years. One big change in 2018 was the distance. For more than two decades, the athletes competed over two miles. This year the races were three kilometers, about 240 yards shorter than two miles. For the most part, the runners shrugged off the change.

"It honestly feels the same," said Townsend. "I doesn't make a difference to me."

The distance will be three kilometers again a week later at the next meet on the schedule, the Mustang Invitational at Montford Middle School on Thursday, 20 September 2018.

"I'm a bit worried," said Townsend. "Last year I didn't run very well there. But I'm looking forward to it like any race."

"It's mostly in the woods," said Maya Tang. "I like that because there's lots of shade."

Shade is good, because although it may be September, it's still summer.

Everhart Invitational Champions, 1988 - 2018
13 September 2018Wyatt Townsend (Deerlake) 10:46Maya Tang (Deerlake) 12:16
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
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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