Buchholz, Oak Hall teams eye state titles

With a berth in the FHSAA state cross country finals hanging in the balance, many area athletes stepped up their game to advance to the state Championshipss.

There could be much movement in the Mainstreet Daily News rankings as the state Championshipss are one of the few times area athletes get to compete head to head or on the same course on the same day. And given the significance of the race, all the athletes will be primed to do their best.

The FHSAA Cross Country State Championships will take place at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee on Friday, Nov. 12. The schedule will be as follows:

  • 7:30 a.m 2A girls
  • 7:55 a.m 3A girls
  • 8:20 a.m. 2A Boys
  • 8:45 a.m 3A Boys
  • 9:10 a.m. 4A girls
  • 9:35 a.m. 1A girls
  • 10:00 a.m. 4A boys
  • 10:25 a.m. 1A boys

More information on the state Championshipss can be found here.

The NFHSNetwork will broadcast the event live that I will be announcing.

It could be a historic day for the area as Buchholz’s Kate Drummond and the Bobcat girls team will be favored in the Class 4A race. The last time Buchholz won was in 2005.

The Oak Hall boys are one of the favorites to win their first team cross country title in school history. The Eagles have been runner-ups the last three years and in 1995 finished three points shy of the state title.

Girls

1. Kate Drummond, Buchholz, Jr

Drummond didn’t win for only the second time this season, picking up a second place finish at the Region 1-4A Championships at Santa Fe College. The conditions were horrendous as rains and wind wreaked havoc. Drummond’s time was 19 minutes,18.5 seconds, just ahead of her was freshman sensation Emily Knopfle of Olympia. These two, plus defending champ Amber Schulz of Timber Creek, are close in times this year so it should be an exciting Class 4A final.

2. Lauren Jones, Oak Hall, Sr

Jones picked up her second regional title winning in a time of 19:40.8 at the Region 2-1A Championships at Santa Fe College. Jones’ best state Championships finish was in 2019 when she was runner-up in a time of 18:44.59. Her fastest state Championships time came as a freshman when she ran 18:33.67 and finished third.

3. Lucy Voss, Buchholz, So

Voss handled the conditions well on Saturday placing fifth in a time of 19:41.9. That low stick was important for the Bobcats, who claimed their first regional title since 2005.

Oak Hall teammates Sydney Miller (left) and Alivia Dragstedt finished third and fourth, respectively, at Saturday's Region 2-1A Championships at Santa Fe College.

4. Sydney Miller, Oak Hall, Jr

Miller finished third at the Region 2-1A Championships in a time of 20:12.3 to help her team to its third regional title in five years.

5. Alivia Dragstedt, Oak Hall, Fr

Dragstedt finished less than a second and one place behind Miller in a time of 20:12.7. The Eagles’ team is focused on the state Championships. The wins have come easily the past two weeks at the district and regional meets. Dragstedt will be an important cog for the Eagles. Since 2010, the Eagles have won or been runner-up eight of 11 times.

6. Eleanor Whisler, Buchholz, Fr

Whisler came in big for the Bobcats for the second week in a row finishing seventh in a time of 19:47.2 at the Region 1-4A Championships. The freshman is performing well beyond her years and will be a key to the Bobcats doing well at state.

7. Emma White, Buchholz, So

White ran solidly to finish 18th at the Region 1-4A Championships with a time of 20:21.4.

8. Ani Veltcheva, GHS, Sr

Veltcheva survived a quick race and a long drive to Panama City’s Arnold high to earn a berth in the state Championships at the Region 1-3A Championships. Veltcheva, the area 5k cross country record holder at 17:46.58, finished seventh overall in a time of 19:24.2 on a tricky course that included gravel, grass and all types of terrain. It will be a big weekend for Veltcheva, who also qualified in the 3A state swimming and diving Championshipss at Stuart’s Sailfin Splash and Aquatics Park on Saturday, Nov 13.

9. Ashley Hamilton, Buchholz, Fr

Hamilton finished 29th in a time of 20:39.4. The freshman has been on the cusp of a breakout performance and with better weather conditions, the state final may be the place for her to make that big jump.

10. Mackenzie Klein, Oak Hall, So

Klein finished 12th in a time of 21:08.3 at the Region 2-1A Championships.

11. Paulina Cervantes, P.K. Yonge, 8th

Cervantes lowered her personal best again with her 20th place finish at the Region 1-2A Championships at New World golf course in Jacksonville. Her time of 20:06.70 was 13.89 seconds faster than last week.

12. Eliana Eisner, Oak Hall, So

Eisner did not finish the region Championships on Saturday and is questionable for Friday’s state Championships.

13. Ellie Cervantes, P.K. Yonge, 8th

Ellie didn’t get another personal best but ran another great race to finish 23rd in a time of 20:31.8. P.K. Yonge will make its first team appearance at the state Championships since 2016.

14. Audrey Fender, Colombia, Jr

Fender’s streak of setting a personal best came to an end on Saturday at the Region 1-3A Championships as she finished 38th in a time of 20:45.0. She did not advance to state and will have to gear up for the spring track season and next year’s cross country season.

15. Lola Murfee, Oak Hall, 7th

Murfree finished 14th in a time of 21:15.70 at the Region 2-1A Championships.

16. Jemima Tolentino, Eastside, Sr

Tolentino finished 28th at the Region 1-2A Championships to earn her first berth at the state finals. Her time of 21:06.60 was a personal best. Last year, she injured herself training with the cross country team to get ready for soccer and didn’t get a chance to compete in cross country.

17. Elizabeth Blitch, Santa Fe, Sr

Blitch finished 31st at the Region 1-2A Championships in a time of 21:09.20. It will be the first time the Wakulla transfer has earned a spot in the state finals.

18. Anna Jane Meeks, Chiefland, 8th

Despite the sloppy conditions, Meeks set a new personal best in finishing ninth in a time of 20:59.3 at the Region 2-1A Championships. Last week at districts, she finished eighth in a time of 22:08.70 and had a best region finish of 30th last year. So that is a 1 minute and 9.4 second improvement and gets her a spot in the state Championships on Friday.

19. Valeria Beaver, Oak Hall, 7th

Beaver was another middle schooler who stunned everyone with a 13th place finish with a new personal best of 21:09.10 at the Region 2-1A Championships. She was even slower than Meeks at district, finishing 10th in a time of 22:32. That’s an improvement of 1 minute and 22.9 seconds. With Eisner questionable for the state Championships, Beaver could provide an extra spark for the Eagles’ chances of earning another podium berth.

20. Catalina Romero, St. Francis, So

Romero’s season came to an end after she finished 19th in a time of 21:26 at the Region 2-1A Championships. Romero’s best time this season was a 21:11 at the New World Fall Spectacular on Oct. 2.

21. Gloria Chang, Buchholz, So

Chang finished 65th in a time of 21:52.7 at the Region 1-4A Championships.

Boys

1. Caden Montini, Oak Hall, Jr

Montini cruised to his first regional title of his career in a time of 16:56.2. The junior has not gone full throttle since his area best of 15:46 three weeks ago, but will turn it up a notch in this Friday’s state Championships. In a Championships where the top three teams are separated by less than 20 points, this meet will be a nail biter decided by seconds.

2. Emerson Miller, Buchholz, Jr

Miller recorded another solid performance finishing third at the Region 1-4A Championships at Santa Fe College in a time of 16:04.1. After two weeks of rain-soaked courses, Miller and the Bobcats will be looking at a drier forecast for Friday’s state Championships.

3. Asher Dobrin, Oak Hall, Sr

Dobrin finished second at the Region 2-1A Championships in a time of 17:06.8. The senior has spoken of the importance of bringing home the state title and this year he’ll be a key factor at the front of the 1A pack for the Eagles.

4. Wrigley Longstreet, Buchholz, Sr

Longstreet finished 16th at the Region 1-4A Championships in a time of 16:44.2. He’s been consistent over the last few weeks and is due for a breakout. It would be appropriate if it occurred at the state Championships in his senior year for the four-year letterman.

5. Tony Matchev, Buchholz, Sr

Matchev turned in a fine time of 16:37.4 in the Region 1-4A Championships. The aptly named “Region of Death” that features the state’s second- through fourth-ranked teams provided a good proving ground to see where Matchev will match up against the state’s best. He earned high marks on Saturday.

Buchholz's Mason Kawaja finished 31st at the Region 1-4A Cross County Championships Saturday.

6. Mason Kawaja, Buchholz, Jr

Kawaja is slowly making his way back after a bout with sickness. He knocked off 40 seconds in his second race back to finish 31st in a time of 17:21.4. It’s like déjà vu all over again as the junior did the same at the beginning of the season after being sidelined with a summer injury. Is it possible to have two comebacks in one season? Kawaja’s season could be a first.

7. Jake Ciocca, Oak Hall, Sr

Ciocca finished ninth in a time of 17:32.6 at the Region 2-1A Championships.

8. Julian Bautista, St. Francis, Sr

Bautista led for the first 2.5 miles before finishing fourth at the Region 2-1A Championships at Santa Fe College in a time of 17:17.5. His team followed suit as they earned their third state berth in a row.

9. Gabe Collante, Oak Hall, Jr

Collante finished ninth in a time of 17:38.5 at the Region 2-1A Championships.

10. Finn Smith, GHS, Sr

Smith went out fast and finished 20th in a time of 17:07.6. Sadly, that was not good enough to earn one of the three individual state Championships berths.

11. Peter Peloso, Oak Hall, Fr

Peloso finished 11th at the Region 2-1A Championships in a time of 17:55.0.

12. Matthew Ortiz, Santa Fe, Sr

Ortiz extended his senior season one more week finishing 17th in a time of 17:13.0 at the Region 1-2A Championships at New World Golf Course. That lowered his best by one second and gives him one more shot to dip under 17 minutes.

13. Riley Smith, Buchholz, So

Smith finished 34th in a time of 17:23.1 at the Region 1-4A Championships. It wasn’t his best race, but given the conditions it was a solid performance against a tough field.

14. Philip Matchev, Buchholz, Fr

Matchev finished 55th at the Region 1-4A Championships.

15. Ryland Kane, Oak Hall, Sr

Kane finished 13th at the Region 2-1A Championships in a time of 17:57.3

16. Quinten Dragstedt, Oak Hall, So

Dragstedt finished 30th in a time of 18:21.2 at the Region 2-1A Championships.

17. Alan Qui, Buchholz, Jr

Qui finished 59th at the Region 1-4A Championships in a time of 17:53.7.

18. Landon Turley, St. Francis, Fr

Turley finished 26th at the Region 2-1A Championships in a time of 18:18.8.

19. Joshua Adolphson, Buchholz, Jr

Adolphson either did not compete at or finish the Region 1-4A Championships.

20. Mark Nance, Buchholz, So

Nance either did not compete at or finish the Region 1-4A Championships.

21. Jack Muir, Buchholz, 12th

Muir either did not compete at or finish the Region 1-4A Championships.

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