Thursday, October 4, 2018

Paige Churchill and Wyatt Townsend close their middle school cross-country careers with wins

The middle school cross-country championship for Leon County Schools' was Thursday, 4 October 2018. Was it in the afternoon, or the evening? During the first race, the girls' 3K, pileated woodpeckers piped from the trees of Apalachee Regional Park, signaling that it was daytime. But before the boys' 3K was over, barred owls--night birds--were hooting "who-cooks-for-you?" over the course.


Afternoon or evening, it was 6:00 PM when the girls' race started, and it was Swift Creek eighth-grader Paige Churchill who finished first, winning her third straight Leon County Schools' cross-country title in three years. The Swift Creek girls captured the team championship. In the boys' 3K, Deerlake eighth-grader Wyatt Townsend got his fifth win of the 2018 season, running 10:07. Townsend and the Deerlake boys successfully defended their 2017 team title, going a perfect five-for-five during 2018.

Paige Churchill
Paige Churchill

Going into the meet, Paige Churchill had won the previous two girls' championships. During her middle school cross-country career she had won ten races--more than any other athlete in Leon County Schools history. Churchill had won three of four races during the 2016 season, and five of five during 2017.


But of the first five meets of 2018, Maya Tang of Deerlake had won three. She opened the 2018 season by taking first in the ARPXC Invitational. Churchill answered with a win the following week at the Fort Braden Run, but Tang was first the week after that at the Everhart Invitational. Churchill won at the Mustang Invitational in week four, and Tang won at the Falcon Invitational in week five.

Maya Tang
Maya Tang

And then it was week six, the week of the Championship.


"I started running in sixth grade, but it wasn't as serious," said Tang.


By seventh grade, though, it was serious. Tang finished near the front in all five Leon County Schools cross-country meets during her seventh-grade season. At the 2017 championship that year, during the first kilometer she had shared the lead with Paige Churchill before dropping back to place third.

Skye Williams
Skye Williams

At the 2018 championship, Tang had the early lead to herself.


"I know Maya goes out really fast," said Churchill. "So I tried not to stress out."


Tang led through the first half of the race, but Churchill started closing the gap. With less than a kilometer to go, she caught Tang.


"It was right before the hill," recalled Churchill.

2018 Swift Creek girls' cross-country team
Swift Creek Girls

"The hill" was Apalachee Regional Park's notorious "Wall," a steep climb out of the woods. Churchill crested the Wall seven seconds before Tang, then started on the final half kilometer to the finish line. The gap between the two runners grew during that stretch, and Churchill finished in a winning 12:04. Tang took second in 12:16. Skye Williams, a Montford seventh-grader, overtook Swift Creek eighth-grader Stella Lewis during the final half kilometer to take third in 12:19. Lewis was fourth in 12:32.


Right behind Lewis, another Swift Creek runner, eighth-grader Ava Jones, placed fifth in 12:36. Lilly Walker, a sixth-grader, was Swift Creek's fourth scorer in the top ten, placing seventh in 12:54. Seventh-grader Elizabeth Kessler was Swift Creek's fifth scorer, giving the Wolves 28 points and the 2018 team title. The Montford girls were second with 53 points, and Deerlake third with 60.


Girls' Team Standings, Leon County Schools 2018 Middle School Cross-Country Championship
  1. Swift Creek, 28
  2. Montford, 53
  3. Deerlake, 60
  4. Cobb, 118
  5. Raa, 132
  6. Fairview, 147
  7. Fort Braden, NTS
    Griffin, NTS

Top Ten Girls, Leon County Schools 2018 Middle School Cross-Country Championship
  1. 12:03.29, Paige Churchill (Swift Creek) 8
  2. 12:15.08, Maya Tang (Deerlake) 8
  3. 12:18.90, Skye Williams (Montford) 7
  4. 12:31.58, Stella Lewis (Swift Creek) 8
  5. 12:35.25, Ava Jones (Swift Creek) 7
  6. 12:49.80, Parker Matherne (Cobb) 8
  7. 12:53.02, Lilly Walker (Swift Creek) 6
  8. 12:54.09, Leah Kiros (Deerlake) 7
  9. 12:56.13, Mackenzie Hulquist (Montford) 7
  10. 12:57.85, Copeland Frazee (Deerlake) 7

"It felt long," said Wyatt Townsend after the boys' 3K. "But that just could be because we've been running a lot of short races."

Wyatt Townsend
Wyatt Townsend

It must have felt even longer for Townsend's competitors, who had to watch his back the whole way. They must have been used to the view, though. Leading up to the Championship, Townsend had won the boys' 3K at the Fort Braden Run, the Everhart Invitational, the Mustang Stampede, and the Falcon Invitational. At Apalachee Regional Park that evening, Townsend was ahead of the field soon after the start, and only got farther ahead as the race went on. Swift Creek eighth-grader Connor Edwards settled into second behind Townsend by the 800-meter mark, chased by seventh-graders Patrick Koon of Fairview and Jackson Rowe of Montford. Those positions remained unchanged for the rest of the race. Townsend won in 10:07, with Edwards runner-up in 10:28. Koon took third in 10:35, and Rowe finished fourth in 10:48.


Deerlake put two more athletes in the top ten with eighth-grader Alastair Deng sixth in 11:09 and seventh-grader Davis McNeely eighth in 11:11. Sixth-grader Ethan Ekk and eighth-grader Carter Rothell complete the scoring for Deerlake, giving the Bucks a winning total of 38 points. Swift Creek was second with 61 points, and Fairview edged Montford for third, 79 to 82.

Connor Edwards
Connor Edwards

And with that, the season was over. The top athletes were recognized, the team trophies were awarded, and athletes started to drift home, realizing that cross-country had just come to an end. Of course, there's always spring, and track season.


"Track's a lot different," said Townsend. "I'm looking forward to that."


"I might do a few 5K races here are there," said Churchill. "But just for fun. I might do the Turkey Trot. That's always my favorite race."

Patrick Koon
Patrick Koon

Both Paige Churchill and Wyatt Townsend are eighth-graders and therefore in their final year of middle school. High school looms ahead, but you may never see either runner in a high school cross-country uniform. Churchill is very involved in soccer. Townsend is "a year-round swimmer." Time will tell.


Boys' Team Standings, Leon County Schools 2018 Middle School Cross-Country Championship
  1. Deerlake, 38
  2. Swift Creek, 61
  3. Fairview, 79
  4. Montford, 82
  5. Raa, 121
  6. Cobb, 190
  7. Fort Braden, 198
  8. Griffin, 221
  9. Nims, NTS

Top Ten Boys, Leon County Schools 2018 Middle School Cross-Country Championship
  1. 10:06.38, Wyatt Townsend (Deerlake) 8
  2. 10:27.19, Connor Edwards (Swift Creek) 8
  3. 10:34.33, Patrick Koon (Fairview) 7
  4. 10:47.31, Jackson Rowe (Montford) 7
  5. 10:57.81, Eric Stillman (Swift Creek) 8
  6. 11:08.88, Alastair Deng (Deerlake) 8
  7. 11:10.65, Yien Liu (Fairview) 7
  8. 11:10.84, Davis McNeely (Deerlake) 7
  9. 11:11.63, Neal Porter (Montford) 6
  10. 11:12.36, Drayden Reams (Raa) 7

2018 Leon County Schools
Middle School Cross-Country Season Summary
Girls
MeetTeam ChampIndividual Champ
ARPXC (Story)
30 August 2018
Swift Creek, 3612:52, Maya Tang (Deerlake) 8
Fort Braden (Story)
6 September 2018
Swift Creek, 3512:51, Paige Churchill (Swift Creek) 8
Everhart (Story)
13 September 2018
Swift Creek, 4112:16, Maya Tang (Deerlake) 8
Mustang (Story)
20 September 2018
Montford, 4011:45, Paige Churchill (Swift Creek) 8
Falcon (Story)
27 September 2018
Swift Creek, 3411:28, Maya Tang (Deerlake) 8
Championship (Story)
4 October 2018
Swift Creek, 2812:04, Paige Churchill (Swift Creek) 8
Boys
MeetTeam ChampIndividual Champ
ARPXC (Story)
30 August 2018
N/AN/A
Fort Braden (Story)
6 September 2018
Deerlake, 3911:07, Wyatt Townsend (Deerlake) 8
Everhart (Story)
13 September 2018
Deerlake, 3010:46, Wyatt Townsend (Deerlake) 8
Mustang (Story)
20 September 2018
Deerlake, 349:43, Wyatt Townsend (Deerlake) 8
Falcon (Story)
27 September 2018
Deerlake, 359:50, Wyatt Townsend (Deerlake) 8
Championship (Story)
4 October 2018
Deerlake, 3810:07, Wyatt Townsend (Deerlake) 8


Leon County Schools Middle School Cross-Country Championships
Apalachee Regional Park, 2010 - 2018
Girls
DateTeam ChampIndividual Champ
6 October 2010Raa, 3213:34, Rebecca Clendinen (Raa) 8
28 September 2011Swift Creek, 3113:24, Zoe Sheldon (Swift Creek) 7
26 September 2012Swift Creek, 3612:49, Audrey Dogan (Raa) 8
2 October 2013Swift Creek, 4313:00, Ana Wallace (Deerlake) 8
1 October 2014Deerlake, 3612:12, Lawton Campbell (Deerlake) 8
7 October 2015Swift Creek, 3512:08, Emily Molen (Deerlake) 8
5 October 2016Montford, 4413:33, Paige Churchill (Swift Creek) 6
4 October 2017Swift Creek, 2713:14, Paige Churchill (Swift Creek) 7
4 October 2018Swift Creek, 2812:04, Paige Churchill (Swift Creek) 8
Boys
DateTeam ChampIndividual Champ
6 October 2010Raa, 2411:35, Wil Luca (Raa) 8
28 September 2011Raa, 5811:42, Evan Francis (Raa) 8
26 September 2012Montford, 5611:49, Matthew Cashin (Raa) 8
2 October 2013Montford, 3711:19, Jacob Dodson (Raa) 8
1 October 2014Fairview, 4411:59, Tavaris King (Griffin) 8
7 October 2015Montford, 5011:34, Nile Bryant (Raa) 8
5 October 2016Swift Creek, 4411:38, Weston Blake (Swift Creek) 8
4 October 2017Deerlake, 5011:31, Ben Kirbo (Montford) 8
4 October 2018Deerlake, 3810:07, Wyatt Townsend (Deerlake) 8
Note: LCS held middle-school cross-country championships before 2010.
This table summarizes the history of the championship at ARPXC.


Links
#2353