Buchholz, Oak Hall girls win state titles

(From left) Oak Hall's Sydney Miller and Buchholz's Eleanor Whisler and Kate Drummond helped their teams to state championships on Saturday.
(From left) Oak Hall's Sydney Miller and Buchholz's Eleanor Whisler and Kate Drummond helped their teams to state championships on Saturday. (File photos by Seth Johnson)

The Oak Hall and Buchholz girls teams won titles at the FHSAA Cross Country State Championships at Apalachee Regional Parkway on Saturday.

It was the first time in area history that two girls teams have won the state championship in the same year.

Oak Hall, ranked third in Class 1A, surprised heavily favored and defending state champion Cambridge Christian by scoring 59 points to 79 points.

The seemingly improbable victory came on a day that the Eagles ran perfectly. The veteran trio of senior Sydney Miller placed sixth in 18 minutes, 48.2 seconds, sophomore Alivia Dragstedt finished 10th in 18:56.8 and Mackenzie Klein finished 17th in 19:20.8.

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But it was two eighth graders that stole the show and sealed the victory. Lola Murfee lowered her personal best by 16 seconds to finish 18th in 19:26.2 and Valeria Beaver, who suffered a mid-year injury, lowered her personal best to 19:43.5 to finish 25th.

Buchholz runner Emerson Miller and Oak Hall's Caden Montini were the top boys area runners for their teams at Saturday's state championships.
File photo by Seth Johnson Buchholz runner Emerson Miller and Oak Hall’s Caden Montini were the top boys area runners for their teams at Saturday’s state championships.

The Eagles never trailed in the point total throughout the four checkpoints along the course for the win — the fifth in school history and the first since 2020.

The Buchholz girls team came in as heavy favorites. However, earlier this week, the team was stricken with illness. Senior Kate Drummond was hit hardest and came in knowing she was going to be sick, but still be counted on.

“I just thought of my team and running for them,” said Drummond who hung on to finish 19th in 19:38.5, a minute slower than she usually runs.

With the team knowing they were going to be less than full strength, the Bobcats were able to hold off early leader Braddock, who darted out to 32 point lead at the mile. However, by two miles, the Bobcats narrowed the lead by 17 points before winning the title, 83-117, over Braddock.

Leading the way was junior Lucy Voss, who finished in 11th in 19:13.3. Teammates Eleanor Whisler and Ashley Hamilton made up 40 points over the course of the race with Emma White only losing one point to help the team rally.

As she did last year, Hamilton made the biggest difference in Buchholz winning their second consecutive title. The sophomore made up 22 places in the final 1.1 miles to finish in 20:24.9.

“I wanted to win this one for Kate,” said Hamilton, holding back tears.

The win marked the third title in school history and the second consecutive for the Bobcats.

In boys races, Buchholz senior Emerson Miller finished third in the 4A race in 15:45.3 and Oak Hall senior Caden Montini finished third in 15:54.1.

Full results can be found at FHSAA.com

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