Ridaught: Oak Hall, Union County athletics finish No. 1

Oak Hill's Sydney Miller (left) and Union County's A.J. Cortese.
Sydney Miller (left) helped lead the Oak Hall girls cross country team to the Class 1A state title, while A.J. Cortese led the Union County football team to the Class 1A state semifinals
Sydney Miller (left) photo by Megan V. Winslow/A.J. Cortese photo by C.J. Gish

Two of the top high school athletic programs in the state reside in the Mainstreet Daily News coverage area.

Earlier this month the Florida High School Athletic Association announced that Oak Hall School of Gainesville repeated as the best overall Class 2A school in the state of Florida for the 2022-23 school year. 

It was the second consecutive year that the Eagles won the award.

Union County (Lake Butler) was recognized as the top 1A classification.

The Floyd E. Lay Sunshine Cup All-Sports Awards are presented by the FHSAA. Each school will be provided a plaque and a letter from FHSAA Executive Director Craig Damon.

Points are awarded to a school based on its finish in FHSAA State Series competition in each sport in the classification in which it has been assigned to compete.

The top 16 places are scored. In all sports with team scores, points are awarded as follows: 20 for the state champion, 12 for the state runner-up, nine for the state semifinalists, 6 for 5-8th places, and three for 9-16th places.

In sports where 16 or fewer schools qualify for the state tournament bracket, points will only be awarded to the 1st through 8th place finishers using the same scoring system.

Schools get a two-point bonus for winning a district or regional championship.

The Lady Eagles finished first overall in 2A with 57 points. It was the second straight year that the girls program finished No. 1.

The boys finished fourth with 31 points to help Oak Hall finish on top in 2A with 88 points overall.

The Oak Hall girls cross country team led the way with 24 points. They won the Class 1A state title last fall which marked their fifth in school history and the first since 2020.

In all, the Eagles’ athletic program finished with 11 district championships (boys golf, girls cross country, boys cross country, volleyball, girls basketball, girls tennis, baseball, girls lacrosse, boys lacrosse, girls track and field, boys track and field).

Six of their teams competed at state (girls cross country, boys cross country, competitive cheer, girls tennis, girls track and field, and boys track and field).

“Oak Hall is very fortunate to have dedicated athletes and some of the best coaches in the state that represent our athletic program,” said OHS Athletics Director Edwin McTureous, who is also the head coach of the cross country teams. “Winning the overall award, back-to-back years, is a great testament to the strength of our athletic program.”

Union County defeated No. 2 Baker by 7.5 points (72-64.50) to finish No. 1 overall in Class 1A.

The boys program had a state-high 59 points and finished ahead of No. 2 Chipley by almost 20 points (59-40.25). The girls finished 14th with 13 points and helped put the Tigers on top.

“I’m very proud as an AD of the accomplishments by last year’s teams,” said Union County’s Andrew Thomas. “We have a great community that has a tradition of excellence and our kids are brought up with solid morals and values. I just want to congratulate our kids and the hard work they have put in within our athletic program, it’s all about them.”

Thomas, who is also the football coach, led the Tigers to one of their state semifinal appearance last season.

“Our football program was in the state semifinals, the volleyball program under a first-year coach made it to semi’s, our baseball under a new coach made a deep run,” he said. “Our basketball program is on the rise also, plus we had several individuals do well in girls and boys weightlifting, track and a state champion lifter. Those are just some of the highlights, but I’m proud of all of our coaches in all of our programs that strive to make them successful.”

Hawthorne finished third overall in 1A with 52 points.

Their boys finished third behind Union County and Chipley (40.25) with 30 points, while the girls finished tied for sixth with 22 points.

The Tigers won a football state title in December, followed by a girls basketball state title in February. Plus, the boys basketball team advanced to the state semifinals

Williston finished sixth overall in 1A with 44 points.

The Red Devils won a state championship in boys basketball in March, helping the boys program to finish 6th with 25 points. The girls finished tied for 8th with 19 points.

The Fort White girls finished third with 27.25 points, the Bell girls finished tied for sixth with Hawthorne (22 points), and the Newberry boys finished 11th with 16.50 points.

Among the larger classifications, Buchholz finished sixth overall in Class 6A with 119.50 points.

The boys finished fifth with 71 points and the girls finished 10th with 48.50 points.

The football team played in its second straight state semifinal and the Lady Bobcats won their second straight cross country state title and third title in school history.

Suwannee (Live Oak) finished 3rd overall in Class 4A with 138.50 points.

The boys finished third with 94.5 points and the girls were 11th in the state with 44 points.

The Keystone Heights boys finished 10th in the state in 4A with 42.50 points.

The completed standings break-down as follows:

• Overall Full Standings
• Girls Full Standings
• Boys Full Standings

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