Buchholz’s Maren named top coach

Buchholz girls cross country team 2022 state 4A champions
Buchholz girls cross country team 2022 state 4A champions with coach Mike Maren (far right). (Courtesy of Jennifer Whisler)
Courtesy of Jennifer Whisler

One month ago, the Buchholz girls cross country team won the Class 4A state title.

On Monday, Bobcats’ head coach Mike Maren was named the best girls cross country coach in Florida by the Florida Dairy Farmers.

“It is an honor to be nominated and I appreciate the recognition,” Maren said. “However, no coach can do this by themselves. We have the best booster club, in my opinion, and these parents put in endless hours of work to help our program grow and make it a success. We all have busy lives and it amazes me how our parents support the kids and coaches in every aspect of the program.”

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Buchholz cross country coach Mike Maren
Courtesy of Mike Maren Buchholz cross country coach Mike Maren.

Maren also credited the Buchholz administration and Athletic Director Ron Brooks. 

“They support our athletic teams and are always there to help our season run smoothly and chip in whenever they can,” Maren said.

But most of all he was appreciative of his team.

“I also want to give the credit to the most amazing group of girls I have had the pleasure to work with in the almost 20 years I have been at Buchholz,” Maren said. “These kids work so hard, they love each other, they run for each other, they are unselfish, and they compete hard for a common goal. The most important credit I need to give is to God, without Him, nothing is possible.”

It was the second straight state title for Maren and the Lady Bobcats.

“Last year we were an underdog, so no one expected us to do what we did,” Maren said. “The great thing about last year was we had no injuries and no illness, so we kept getting better each race and finished the season well. It was stressful because keeping everyone healthy is tough and always a worry.”

Buchholz was dealt that hand on the day of the state championship as top runner Kate Drummond was sick, but still participated, plus everyone wanted to knock the Bobcats off this year.

Buchholz runners Eleanor Whisler, left, and Kate Drummond, right, finished fifth and fourth overall at the Bobcat Classic Invite.
Photo by Seth Johnson Buchholz runners Eleanor Whisler (left) and Kate Drummond, at the Bobcat Classic Invite.

“This year we had a target on our back so it was a tougher thing to do,” Maren said. “We had an injury to one of our top five early and she had to rehab and go through the healing process and we had a couple of girls get COVID-19 early and it took them a while to heal.”

Drummond, a senior and UF signee, junior Lucy Voss, junior Emma White, and sophomores Eleanor Whisler and Ashley Hamilton were on last year’s state championship team.

“Each season was a totally different feeling but it was helpful for the growth of these girls to experience each,” Maren said. “If I had to describe the girls with one word, it would be ‘Tough’ and it has certainly done them justice.”

Oak Hall and Buchholz girls cross country each won a state championship this fall.

According to Mainstreet Daily News track correspondent, Ricky Quintana, that’s the first time that has happened in the area.

Oak Hall’s Edwin McTureous was named the girls 1A coach-of-the-year.

In addition, junior Patrick Koon of Leon (Tallahassee), and senior Jillian Candelino of The Bolles School (Jacksonville), were named the 2022 Florida Dairy Farmers Mr. and Miss Cross Country in a vote by the state’s cross country coaches.

Oak Hall girls cross country team 2022 state 1A champions
Courtesy of Edwin McTureous Oak Hall girls cross country team 2022 state 1A champions with 1A Coach of the Year Courtesy of Edwin McTureous (far left).

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