Faster courses shake up cross country rankings

The P.K. Yonge girls took first place at the Trinity Catholic Celtic Invitational Saturday morning, leading a host of top area performances on a fast course.

Gainesville and Eastside high schools also posted seasonal top marks on a course that was a bit short of 5K (3.1 miles). We’ve adjusted times for the course length of 2.98 miles in this week’s area cross country rankings—the fourth in our weekly series recognizing the top runners in North Central Florida.

The Buchholz girls took second and the boys took fourth at the Katie Caples Invitational in Jacksonville Saturday night.

Meanwhile, the Oak Hall boys and girls teams had their best efforts this season to finish sixth in the boys race and seventh in the girls race.

St. Francis finished 18th as many of its runners posted season-best times.

Buchholz will take a bye next week, while Oak Hall, St. Francis and Santa Fe travel to the New World Fall Spectacular in Jacksonville. P.K. Yonge will travel to Green Cove Springs for the Golden Eagles Invitational, and Keystone Heights is scheduled to participate in the Bradford Invitational in Starke.

Here are the latest rankings:

Girls

1. Kate Drummond, Buchholz, Jr

Drummond powered away from Oak Hall’s Lauren Jones to win the Katie Caples Invitational on Saturday night for her third win of the season. Her 18:50 was not a personal best but solidified her atop the cross country rankings.

“After a mile, I could feel like we were backing off of the pace, so I decided I had to go,” Drummond said. “I think the takeaway from this meet is I need to go out harder, because I have a lot left in the tank at the end. I think in the last two races I didn’t go out hard enough, so I think I need to put the push down earlier on.”

Lauren Jones - Oak Hall girls cross country mug

2. Lauren Jones, Oak Hall, Sr

Jones challenged Drummond for the first half of the race before dropping back. In the end, she was able to hold off Reilly Barber of St. Augustine for second place and a season-best time of 19:02 at the Katie Caples Invitational.

“I felt a lot more comfortable this week,” she said after the race, noting she’s had three weeks of post-surgery training. “I knew I wanted to stay with Kate, obviously. I just stuck with her as long as I could and finished the race as hard as I could. I’m definitely excited about what I can run in state in two months. It was great to see the big improvement I had in a week. I’m really proud of our team because we improved a lot this week.”

3. Lucy Voss, Buchholz, So

Voss posted her second fastest time of the season (19:25) to finish sixth at the Jacksonville meet. It was the first time she has lost to someone from another area team.

4. Sydney Miller, Oak Hall, Jr

Miller ran a savvy race working her way through the field to finish eighth in a time of 19:29 at the Katie Caples Invitational. That took 21 seconds off her personal best time set on the faster New World Golf course, where she will race on Saturday.

5. Emma White, Buchholz, So

White finished 12th for the Bobcats, who finished second place to flrunners.com’s No. 1-ranked 3A Ponte Vedra. It was her second time under 20 minutes and moved the Bobcats back into first place in flrunners.com’s 4A rankings, just ahead of Newsome.

6. Alivia Dragstedt, Oak Hall, Fr

Dragstedt came on late to collar Buchholz freshmen Ashley Hamilton and Eleanor Whisler to claim the title as the top area freshman. Her time of 19:58 was a personal best by 24 seconds and placed her 24th in the field in Jacksonville.

“My goal was to go under 20 minutes for this season and, hopefully, now stay under that for the season,” she said. The course definitely felt a lot faster to any of the courses that we have gone to this year. Just the motivation to do well for the team, definitely helped me a lot.”

7. Ashley Hamilton, Buchholz, Fr

Hamilton broke away early from her training and racing partner, Whisler, to place 31st in a time of 20:12. That was a personal best by 29 seconds.

Eleanor Whisler - Buchholz girls cross country mug

8. Eleanor Whisler, Buchholz, Fr

Whisler paced herself well and moved through the pack to finish 40th in a time of 20:24. That was a personal best by 20 seconds.

9. Ani Veltcheva, GHS, Sr

Veltcheva did not race this weekend and slipped three spots after the fast times this weekend.

10. Mackenzie Klein, Oak Hall, So

Klein slashed 47 seconds off her season best at the Katie Caples Invitational. Her time of 21:01 was good enough for 70th place. With her help, the Eagles were within 10 points of flrunners.com’s second-ranked 1A team, Circle Christian.

11. Eliana Eisner, Oak Hall, So

Eisner did not have her best race this season at the Katie Caples Invitational. However, her 21:28 at Cecil Field Classic on August 27 holds down her position.

12. Elizabeth Loosli, Buchholz, Sr

Loosli knocked off 65 seconds off her season best to finish 91st at the Jacksonville meet. Her time of 21:32 moved her up six spots in the weekly rankings.

13. Catalina Romero, St. Francis, So

Romero did not compete Saturday and holds down her position at 13th.

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

Cervantes finished a hard fought second at Trinity Catholic Invitational in Ocala Saturday morning. The times were adjusted due to the course length discrepancies on many of the participant’s watches. Her adjusted time of 21:35.6 was a personal best by 19 seconds and equaled her time from last year’s race.

15. Lola Murfee, Oak Hall, 7th

Murfree continued her mercurial improvement taking off 55.5 seconds off her personal best time. Her 21:39 at the Katie Caples Invitational was fifth fastest for the Eagles and good enough for 92nd place.

16. Elizabeth Blitch, Santa Fe, Sr

Blitch rebounded from a poor time at Bronco Classic at Middleburg High School to post a season best time of 21:47 in the varsity open division of the Katie Caples Invitational. The former Wakulla runner is approaching her personal best of 20:44 from 2020.

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

Elie followed her sister across the line to help the Blue Wave to their second team win this season. Her adjusted time of 21:50.3 was a new seasonal best. She also finished just ahead of Tolentino, who had beaten her the week before.

18. Jemima Tolentino, Eastside, Sr

The Ram senior hung tough to place fifth at the Trinity Catholic Celtic Invitational in Ocala. Her adjusted time of 22:03 did not match her time at last week’s Buffalo Invitational but was still a solid performance. The two-sport athlete trained with the cross country team last year, but was injured. This year, she is the top Ram and continuing to show improvements.

19. Gloria Chang, Buchholz, So

Chang crushed her personal best with her time of 22:14 at the Katie Caples Invitational. The time was 38 seconds faster than her previous best, which she set at the Cecil Field Classic opener.

20. Laci Herron, P.K. Yonge, Sr

Herron did not compete Saturday. She slipped three spots after this weekend’s faster times.

21. Annie Riding, Buchholz, So

Riding makes her first appearance in the rankings after posting a personal best time of 22:51 at the Katie Caples Invitational. That was 43 seconds better than her season opener at the Cecil Field Classic.

Boys

1. Emerson Miller, Buchholz, Jr

Despite nursing a foot injury through Wednesday of last week, Miller again produced a sensational performance at the Katie Caples Invitational. Using his trademark come-from-behind strategy, Miller placed 10th in a time of 15:54. That was fourth-fastest among 4A participants. Miller’s time was not his fastest of the season, but he was able to finish close to Wyatt Townsend and Ben Kirbo of Chiles, who are among the six fastest runners in Class 4A.

“I wasn’t expecting to do so well, but I felt good and pushed through,” he said. “We knew we had to go out fast because the course funnels into a narrow path 150 to 200 meters into the race… The legs felt kind of stale the last half mile or so, but I was trying to push through it. Aerobically I felt good, so I am happy. I’m happy with the time. I have two weeks until Bobcat Classic, so I am going to train hard and do well there.”

2. Caden Montini, Oak Hall, Jr

Montini went out with the front pack and held on for 15th place in Jacksonville. His time of 16:25 was his second-fastest time of the season.

“When we got to the end, I just didn’t have it today,” he said. “Our team ran great today. We were all within a minute. Our seventh man ran 17:30, which is really good for him. We’re really excited for the postseason now. We’re really excited about what we can do.”

Mason Kawaja - Buchholz boys cross country mug

3. Mason Kawaja, Buchholz, Jr

The Bobcat junior finished strongest, placing 16th in a time of 16:30 and nearly catching Montini. In his three races, he has taken off 65 seconds and moved into a solid second man for the ‘Cats.

“I wouldn’t say it went great because I am not a fan of evening races,” Kawaja said. “My legs always feel a little out of it. I was able to concentrate pretty hard and give it everything I have. I am really happy with the PR.”

Kawaja said his recovery from a hip injury has surprised him.

“I really am shocked. A little over a month ago, I couldn’t walk without pain. I’m really happy with the way it’s going right now,” he said. “I have big goals for the season. I think I’m getting close to those pretty quickly.”

4. Wrigley Longstreet, Buchholz, Sr

Longstreet finished 38th at Katie Caples in a time of 16:42. He was the fourth man on the team, but not by much. He holds down fourth in the rankings based on his season opening time of 16:33.

5. Tony Matchev, Buchholz, Sr

Matchev was elated with his personal best time of 16:36 at the Katie Caples Invitational. The senior set the tone, leading teammates Longstreet and Kawaja into the trenches against some tough 4A foes.

“My last big PR in cross country was my freshman year. I am so grateful to be able to get into the 16:30s,” he said. “I am ahead of Enoch’s [Team Florida Track Club Head Coach] times. He ran 16:40 at this meet, and he ran 15:38 at state. I hope to beat that.”

Matchev said the track conditions played a key role in his improved time.

“I still got boxed in, but after that it was just trying to pick people off and maneuver around everybody. Luckily, it wasn’t too muddy, so I was able to remain stable,” he said. “That’s something I couldn’t do last race with the soft surface. I think the track surface helped me maintain my form and get through that last mile.”

6. Asher Dobrin, Oak Hall, Sr

Dobrin finished 30th in a time of 16:43 in Jacksonville—a new season best.

7. Julian Bautista, St. Francis, Sr

Bautista had a much better race than last week and posted a 16:56 for 43rd place at the Katie Caples Invitational.

8. Jake Ciocca, Oak Hall, Sr

The senior sped to a time of 16:53 to finish 37th at the Katie Caples Invitational. His time was seven seconds faster than his personal best time of 17:00 set last year at the Asics Invitational.

9. Riley Smith, Buchholz, So

Running in only his second varsity race, Smith made the most of it, finishing 58th in a time of 17:16. That shaved off 31 seconds from his personal best time from last week.

10. Philip Matchev, Buchholz, Fr

Matchev lowered his personal best to 17:21 to finish 64th at the Katie Caples Invitational.

11. Gabe Collante, Oak Hall, Jr

Collante finished one second behind and two places behind Philip Matchev in a highly competitive Katie Caples race. His time was a new seasonal best. The Eagles moved up the flrunners.com 1A rankings and now sit at No. 2 behind Circle Christian, which beat them by 10 points on Saturday. Oak Hall has been Class 1A runner-up the last three years.

12. Ryland Kane, Oak Hall, Sr

The Eagle senior finished 72nd in a time of 17:32 at the Katie Caples Invitational. His personal best of 17:19 was from 2019, so he is nearing his lifetime best at the right time.

13. Matthew Ortiz, Santa Fe, Sr

Ortiz finished 92nd in a time of 17:43 in Jacksonville. That was 13 seconds slower than his best time in the season opener at Cecil Field, but he holds down his spot in this week’s rankings.

14. Peter Peloso, Oak Hall, Fr

Peloso finished 75th in a time of 17:30 at the Katie Caples Invitational, a personal best by 15 seconds.

15. Alan Qui, Buchholz, Jr

Qui produced his fourth personal best in as many races. The junior lowered his best by 25 seconds this time with his 17:30 in Jacksonville. That was good for 76th place.

16. Joshua Adolphson, Buchholz, Jr

Adolphson lowered his personal best by a whopping 30 seconds at Katie Caples. His time of 17:32 was eight best on the Bobcat team.

17. Quinten Dragstedt, Oak Hall, So

Dragstedt had a great showing, finishing 82nd in a time of 17:32 at the Katie Caples Invitational. That took 42 seconds off his personal best.

18. Finn Smith, GHS, Sr

Smith placed fourth at the Trinity Catholic Celtic Invitational Saturday in Ocala. His adjusted time of 17:36.1 was a new personal best.

19. Mark Nance, Buchholz, So

Nance ran a personal best time of 17:41 to finish 90th at the Katie Caples Invitational Saturday. That was a personal best by 27 seconds.

Tyler Griffin - Keystone Heights boys cross country mug

20. Carlos Segura, Buchholz, Sr

Segura finished second in the Katie Caples junior varsity race. His time of 17:45 was a personal best by 21 seconds.

21. Tyler Griffin, Keystone Heights, So

Griffin placed seventh at the Trinity Catholic Celtic Invitational Saturday in Ocala. His adjusted time of 17:51.9 was a new personal best by 64 seconds.

This is the fourth in the weekly Mainstreet Daily News cross country rankings for area high school runners. To find out the criteria for the rankings, click here

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