Cross Country: Oak Hall’s Montini tops rankings

The FSU Pre-State Invitational proved to be a good mid-season test for area runners over the weekend. The weather did not cooperate, as temperatures and humidity in Tallahassee were higher than expected at race time, but that did not deter a shakeup at the top of the boys’ rankings this week.

Next week is a bye week as teams gear up for the FHSAA state series, which begins locally on Oct. 26.

We’ll also take a bye next week and return the following week as we gear up for the FHSAA State series, which could see significant changes in the rankings.

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Here’s where things stand after seven weeks:


1. Kate Drummond, Buchholz, Jr

Sickness struck at the wrong time and kept Drummond sidelined for the biggest test of the year. Drummond is undefeated against area competition and is ranked No. 2 in 4A, according to behind last year’s defending champ Amber Schulz of Timber Creek. Schulz ran 18 minutes, 30 seconds at FSU Pre-State, setting up an interesting battle between a veteran and the up-and-coming Drummond.

2. Lauren Jones, Oak Hall, Sr

Jones had a scheduled week off from racing and took advantage of it as part of Oak Hall’s homecoming court. Jones is ranked No. 4 in Class 1A behind the Cambridge Christian trio of Mary Ellen Eudaly, Caroline Lehman and Eliana Black. However, at the FSU Pre-State, these three showed some vulnerability as they recorded times of 18:05.0, 18:24.3 and 18:31.9, which are well within Jones’ reach.

3. Lucy Voss, Buchholz, So

Voss was also struck by the sickness bug. She sat out this week and will surely be rested in two weeks when the Bobcats begin their toughest stretch of FHSAA state series qualifying rounds.

4. Sydney Miller, Oak Hall, Jr

Miller was also part of the homecoming court at Oak Hall and took a well-deserved week off. She is ranked No. 9 in 1A by and if she can just get a good day at state, she could dip under 19 minutes, which would be a big help to the Eagles chances of medaling the podium.

5. Emma White, Buchholz, So

The sophomore bore the brunt of the leadership role with the top two Bobcats out sick. She moved up and recorded a 19:58.0 to finish 46th at the Pre-State Invitational.

6. Alivia Dragstedt, Oak Hall, Fr

Dragstedt holds down her spot, although she also had the week off. Both Dragstedt and Miller will be the tonic the Eagles need to make a run at a podium finish.

7. Ashley Hamilton, Buchholz, Fr

Hamilton recovered from her worst outing ever at the Bobcat Classic last week. At the FSU Pre-State Invitational, Hamilton made up 36 places between mile one and two and 15 places between mile two and three to finish 65th in a time of 20:19.7. That’s her second-best time of the season. The Bobcats will need Hamilton to join Whisler in the sub 20 group to make a run at the state title.

Buchholz's Ashley Hamilton finished 65th at the FSU Pre-State

8. Eleanor Whisler, Buchholz, Fr

Whisler couldn’t back up her fantastic sub-20 performance at FSU Pre-State Invitational. She finished 91st with a time of 20:38.6. That’s still a solid effort for the freshman who has tremendous upside.

9. Ani Veltcheva, GHS, Sr

Veltcheva scratched from a scheduled run at the FSU Pre-State Invitational. She was advised not to run by her physical therapist as she was nursing an injury at the Bobcat Classic.

10. Mackenzie Klein, Oak Hall, So

Klein holds down her spot on her off week. Look for her to make some big gains in the postseason.

11. Eliana Eisner, Oak Hall, So

Eisner also sat out this week. She’ll also be a huge factor on the state stage for the Eagles’ chances at a podium finish.

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

Cervantes did not run on Saturday.

13. Elizabeth Blitch, Santa Fe, Sr

Blitch performed well in the hottest conditions of the day at the FSU Pre-State Invitational. Her 21:39.5 placed her third in the Varsity B race which was run at 10:50 a.m. She’ll need to get under 21:00 minutes to have a chance to advance as an individual to the state meet.

14. Jemima Tolentino, Eastside, Sr

Tolentino finished fourth at the Coach Hope Invitational in Fernandina Beach in a new personal best of 21:16.4.

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

Cervantes finished 8th at the Wildwood Invitational in a time of 21:09.88.

16. Catalina Romero, St. Francis, So

Romero finished 16th in the Varsity A race at the FSU Pre-State Invitational in a time of 21:38.1. She’ll need to drop her time under 21:00 minutes to advance as an individual to the state meet.

17. Lola Murfee, Oak Hall, 7th

Murfree is the x-factor for the Eagles. If she continues to improve, she’ll give the Eagles another weapon to reach a podium finish.

18. Audrey Fender, Columbia, Jr

Fender won the Ridgeview Panther Classic in a time of 21:39.0. That was an improvement of 22 seconds over her personal best last week. It is the third consecutive meet she has finished with a new personal best.

19. Gloria Chang, Buchholz, So

Chang was a bright spot for the depleted Bobcat squad. She ran a personal best of 21:55.1 by 12 seconds to finish 169th at the Pre-State Invitational.

20. Elizabeth Loosli, Buchholz, Sr

Loosli finished 197th in a time of 22:27.6. It was nearly a minute from her personal best but was a solid effort.

21. Kenya Daniels, Columbia, So

Daniels lowered her personal best to 22:33.0 to finish sixth at the Coach Hope Invitational. It was a personal best by 25 seconds.


1. Caden Montini, Oak Hall, Jr

The Eagle junior ran the best race of his career to finish 16th at the FSU Pre-State Invitational. His time of 15:46.1 was a personal best by 12 seconds and an area best by four seconds. That’s incredible considering he sat out the Eagles’ last race two weeks ago and was given the green light to train a few days after that. It was his first defeat of area No. 1, Emerson Miller, in the state’s most prestigious race thus far.

Montini employed a new strategy coming from behind to pass 25 runners from the mile. It helped him pass Miller in these rankings. 

2. Emerson Miller, Buchholz, Jr

Miller finished 26th in a time of 16:04.6 at the FSU Pre-State Invitational. It was his first loss to an area runner this year. Plenty can happen in the next four weeks before state and the Bobcats are looking to peak in the final two weeks of the season, so expect some faster times in the state series.

3. Asher Dobrin, Oak Hall, Sr

Dobrin came up big for the Eagles, finishing 48th at the FSU Pre-State Invitational in a time of 16:27.4. Dobrin passed 70 runners in the last two miles to finish with his second-best time of the season. The come-from-behind strategy he began using two weeks ago is paying dividends.

4. Mason Kawaja, Buchholz, Jr

Kawaja did not race because of sickness.

5. Tony Matchev, Buchholz, Sr

Matchev did not race because of sickness.

Buchholz's Wrigley Longstreet finished 69th at the FSU Pre-State

6. Wrigley Longstreet, Buchholz, Sr

Longstreet finished 69th with a time of 16:38.8 at the FSU Pre-State Invitational. He also came from behind and passed 59 runners from the mile on. It was his third-best time this season.

7. Gabe Collante, Oak Hall, Jr

Collante finished 93rd at the FSU Pre-State Invitational in a time of 16:58.8. It was his second time under 17 minutes, which bodes well for the Eagles who’ll need him to run under 16:45 to have a chance at their first state boys’ title in school history.

8. Julian Bautista, St. Francis, Sr

Bautista is getting consistent and is due for a breakthrough. He ran a 16:54.8 to finish 33rd in the Boys Select race at the FSU Pre-State Invitational. His last four races have been under 17 minutes and with some rest and high stakes on the line, he’ll have some great opportunities to lower that time.

9. Jake Ciocca, Oak Hall, Sr

After two consecutive personal bests, Ciocca finished above 17 for the first time. His 17:08.5 was good for 114th place at the FSU Pre-State Invitational. The Eagles will need him to get under 17 minutes to have a chance to beat Circle Christian (Winter Park) and Seffner Christian for the 1A state title.

10. Peter Peloso, Oak Hall, Fr

Peloso had a great race at the FSU Pre-State Invitational finishing 122nd in a time of 17:12.0. That was one second slower than his personal best set on a much faster New World Golf course.

11. Quinten Dragstedt, Oak Hall, So

Dragstedt had a breakthrough performance lowering his personal best by 17 seconds at the FSU Pre-State Invitational. And all this in the wake of the homecoming festivities this past week where he was on the homecoming court. His 17:14.7 placed him 128th and put him on track to break 17 by the season’s end.

12. Riley Smith, Buchholz, So

Smith bounced from sickness to nearly eclipse his personal best. His time of 17:18.50 placed him 135th at the Pre-State Invitational. He is the X-factor for the Bobcats. If he can get under 17 minutes by state, Buchholz will have a better chance to earn a place on the podium.

13. Ryland Kane, Oak Hall, Sr

Kane had a sub-par performance at the FSU Pre-State Invitational finishing 193rd in a time of 17:52.9. That was a far cry from his sensational 16:54.0 personal best set two weeks ago. With Circle Christian and Seffner Christian being so close, the Eagles will need Kane to be at his best by the state meet.

14. Alan Qui, Buchholz, Jr

Qui continues to amaze. He has set a personal best in every single race this season. This time he recorded a 17:18.70 to place 136th at the FSU Pre-State Invitational. If he can continue at this rate, he’ll be sure to go under 17 and give the Bobcats another solid varsity performer.

15. Philip Matchev, Buchholz, Fr

Matchev finished 147th in a time of 17:24.4. His last three races have all been within three seconds of each other, so what does that mean? A breakthrough is right around the corner. Within four weeks’ time, he’ll be sure to get under 17 minutes.

16. Jack Muir, Buchholz, Sr

Muir finished 166th in a time of 17:32.0. It was a step in the right direction for the senior who is bouncing back from sickness after a great opening race time of 17:05.

17. Mark Nance, Buchholz, So

Nance finished 180th in a time of 17:43.8 at the FSU Pre-State Invitational and it was two seconds shy of his best time. Nance has two performances under 17:50 in the last three meets and he is due to go even faster by the state meet.

18. Finn Smith, GHS, Sr

In the largest, most prestigious meet of his brief two-year career, Smith recorded his third-best time of the season. He finished 18th in the Varsity A race in a time of 17:49.2. He’s getting some races under his belt and he’ll learn from this. Smith will It need to run under 17 minutes to advance to state.

19. Matthew Ortiz, Santa Fe, Sr

Ortiz produced another good time of 17:53.1 in the Varsity B race at the FSU Pre-State Invitational. He flirted with the win early on, but the heat of the day and the challenging course saw him fade in the latter stages of the race. His time was well off his best of 17:14. He’ll have a great shot of making it to state if he can reproduce that time by the regional championships.

20. Joshua Adolphson, Buchholz, Jr

Adolphson finished 201st with a time of 17:58.2. It was his third time under 18 minutes and his third-best effort. He’s getting the hang of cross country, but on the competitive Bobcats team, he may be running out of opportunities to make the seven-man varsity starting squad.

21. Landon Turley, St. Francis, Fr

Turley finished with a time of 18:02.8 to finish 117th in the Boys Select Race at the FSU Pre-State Invitational. Turley is a tough runner and gives his all. In the upcoming weeks, he’ll have to lay it on the line to lead his team to advance. Though a freshman, he has become a leader of a team that uses him as a pacer to run their races.

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