Friday, September 6, 2019

Skye Williams and Patrick Koon battle to victory at the Fort Braden Run

You can't go much farther west than Fort Braden and still be in Leon County, Florida. Bloxham is still a few miles down State Road 20, but after that is the Ochlockonee River and the county line. But Leon County has Fort Braden School there, and Fort Braden Community Park next to it. The park is where Leon County Schools' middle school cross-country teams assembled on Thursday afternoon, 5 September 2019, for the second meet of the season, the tenth annual Fort Braden Run. Montford eighth-grader Skye Williams won the girls' 3000-meter event with a 12:58, and her school was first in the team standings with 46 points. In the boys' race, Fairview eighth-grader Patrick Koon took first in 10:27, but it was the Deerlake Bucks who prevailed in the team competition, putting up a winning score of 32.

Skye Williams
Skye Williams

Williams had won the first girls' 3K of the season at Apalachee Regional Park on 29 August 2019, but the early leader at Fort Braden was Madison Sims, a Fort Braden School sixth-grader.

"I just wanted to win it, so I got out in front of the race," said Sims. "We run this course every day for practice."

"She runs this course a lot, so I expected her to be out fast," said Williams.

Sophia Youngberg, Elizabeth Kessler
Sophia Youngberg & Elizabeth Kessler

Home course advantage took Sims through the first kilometer of the race, but no farther. After that, Williams took over.

"It was like right after we got off the road," said Williams. "Maybe a third of the way through the race."

The Fort Braden Run belonged to Williams after that. The Mustang ace opened a lead of over 90 meters as the runners circled the school building, going on to win in 12:58. During that circuit of Fort Braden School, four other runners overtook Sims. Those four--Montford seventh-grader Sophia Youngberg, Swift Creek eighth-grader Elizabeth Kessler, Deerlake eighth-grader Ella Holman, and Deerlake sixth-grader Kyra Swart--were battling for second with 200 meters to go when the runners returned to the the park. Kessler surged ahead to get the runner-up spot in 13:24. Swart was third in 13:28, Holman fourth in 13:30, and Youngberg fifth in 13:33. Sims hung on to place sixth in 13:45.

Kyra Swart, Ella Holman
Kyra Swart & Ella Holman

If you were going to pick a team to win the Fort Braden Run, it would have to be the Swift Creek girls. The Wolves were not only the defending champions at Fort Braden, they had also won the girls' team title six times during the nine-year history of the meet. Indeed, Swift Creek had three runners in the top ten at Fort Braden, with Kessler joined by eighth-grader Ava Jones (7th, 14:02) and seventh-grader Natalie Nelson (10th, 14:28). But the Montford Mustangs had their own faster three in the top ten--winner Williams, Youngberg, and seventh-grader Aditi Mukhirala (8th, 14:16). The two remaining scorers for the Mustangs were seventh-grader Clara Thompson (13th, 14:44) and eighth-grader Kaitlyn Kristian (19th, 15:18), giving Montford a narrow 46 to 48 victory over Swift Creek. Deerlake was third with 61 points.

2019 Fort Braden Run Team Standings, Girls
  1. Montford, 46
  2. Swift Creek, 48
  3. Deerlake, 61
  4. Raa, 115
  5. Cobb, 148
  6. Fairview, 167
  7. Fort Braden, 170

Top Ten Girls, 2019 Fort Braden Run
  1. 12:57.99, Skye Williams (Montford) 8
  2. 13:23.34, Elizabeth Kessler (Swift Creek) 8
  3. 13:27.05, Kyra Swart (Deerlake) 6
  4. 13:29.79, Ella Holman (Deerlake) 8
  5. 13:32.20, Sophia Youngberg (Montford) 7
  6. 13:44.64, Madison Sims (Fort Braden) 7
  7. 14:01.15, Ava Jones (Swift Creek) 8
  8. 14:15.65, Aditi Mukhirala (Montford) 7
  9. 14:23.09, Leyah O'Kelley (Cobb) 8
  10. 14:27.10, Natalie Nelson (Swift Creek) 7

There wasn't much change of positions up front during the boys' 3K. 200 meters after the race started, the runners headed across a narrow footbridge leading from Fort Braden Community Park to Fort Braden School. At the end of the bridge, Fairview's Patrick Koon was leading, with his Falcon teammate Justin Greenwood in second. A few hundred meters later, Montford's Jackson Rowe moved up into third. Those runners held their positions around the school, back to the park, and across the finish line, with Koon first in 10:27, Greenwood second in 11:03, and Rowe third in 11:36.

Patrick Koon
Patrick Koon

"I beat Wyatt's time!" declared Koon.

Koon's 10:27 was quite a bit faster than the Wyatt Townsend's 11:07 winning effort in the 2018 race, and faster still than the 11:29 that Koon himself had run that year.

Justin Greenwood
Justin Greenwood

A week earlier the Fairview boys had won the season opener at Apalachee Regional Park, ending the Deerlake Bucks' ten-meet winning streak, a streak that had lasted two years. The Bucks weren't having any of that at Fort Braden. After Rowe crossed the finish line, the next four runners were all wearing Deerlake green--eighth-graders Brooks Bowden (4th, 11:46), Jonah Blay (5th, 11:55), and Cade Swart (6th, 11:58); and seventh-grader Danny Mauldin (7th, 11:59). A few seconds later, Deerlake's fifth scorer, eighth-grader Davis McNeely, placed tenth in 12:14, and the Bucks had 32 points and the win. It was the Deerlake boys' fourth Fort Braden Run team title in five years. Fairview was a distant second with 60 points. Led by seventh-grader Asher Robertson (8th, 12:01), Swift Creek was third in the seven-team field with 87 points.

Racing at Fort Braden started at 6:00 PM. Five of the six meets on Leon County Schools' 2019 middle school cross-country calendar were scheduled with 6:00 PM starts. The exception was the Everhart Invitational, slated for 12 September 2019, one week after the Fort Braden Run. With a 10:30 AM start, it's the only cross-country event run during the school day.

Jackson Rowe
Jackson Rowe

"We get to go to the Mall afterwards," said Koon. "It's a really hot meet."

Following the Everhart Invitational, Leon County Schools' middle school harriers compete at the Mustang Stampede at Montford Middle School on 19 September 2019, the Everhart Invitational at Phipps Park on 26 September 2019, and the League Championship at Apalachee Regional Park on 3 October 2019.

2019 Fort Braden Run Team Standings, Boys
  1. Deerlake, 32
  2. Fairview, 60
  3. Swift Creek, 87
  4. Montford, 96
  5. Raa, 114
  6. Cobb, 174
  7. Fort Braden, 181

Top Ten Boys, 2019 Fort Braden Run
  1. 10:26.47, Patrick Koon (Fairview) 8
  2. 11:02.52, Justin Greenwood (Fairview) 8
  3. 11:35.86, Jackson Rowe (Montford) 8
  4. 11:45.79, Brooks Bowden (Deerlake) 8
  5. 11:54.32, Jonah Blay (Deerlake) 8
  6. 11:57.17, Cade Swart (Deerlake) 8
  7. 11:58.26, Danny Mauldin (Deerlake) 7
  8. 12:00.79, Asher Robertson (Swift Creek) 7
  9. 12:01.52, Justin Mosley (Fort Braden) 8
  10. 12:13.50, Davis McNeely (Deerlake) 8

Fort Braden Cross-Country Meet Champions, 2010 - 2019
22 September 201012:26, Sukhi Khosla (Raa) 815:01, Rebecca Clendinen (Raa)
14 September 201112:16, Evan Francis (Raa)14:45, Zoe Sheldon (Swift Creek)
12 September 201212:40, Matthew Cashin (Raa) 813:58, Audrey Dogan (Raa)
4 September 201312:15, Jacob Dodson (Raa)13:51, Saige Kemeny (Montford)
3 September 201413:00, Bryant McKnight (Montford)13:13, Lawton Campbell (Deerlake)
9 September 201513:08, Weston Blake (Swift Creek) 713:26, Alyson Churchill (Swift Creek) 8
14 September 201611:50, Weston Blake (Swift Creek) 814:05, Paige Churchill (Swift Creek) 6
14 September 201711:51, Filippo Reina (Deerlake) 813:48, Paige Churchill (Swift Creek) 7
6 September 201811:07, Wyatt Townsend (Deerlake ) 812:51, Paige Churchill (Swift Creek) 8
5 September 201910:27, Patrick Koon (Fairview) 812:58, Skye Williams (Montford) 8

Fort Braden Cross-Country Meet Team Titles, 2010 - 2019
22 September 2010Raa (15 points)Raa (33 points)
14 September 2011Montford (55 points)Swift Creek (47 points)
12 September 2012Swift Creek (54 points)Montford (48 points)
4 September 2013Montford (38 points)Swift Creek (44 points)
3 September 2014Swift Creek (60 points)Swift Creek (36 points)
9 September 2015Deerlake (44 points)Swift Creek (38 points)
14 September 2016Swift Creek (23 points)Deerlake (42 points)
14 September 2017Deerlake (41 points)Swift Creek (22 points)
6 September 2018Deerlake (39 points)Swift Creek (35 points)
5 September 2019Deerlake (32 points)Montford (46 points)


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