High school cross country: Glance at Saturday’s state championship meet

(Doug Mcschooler, Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The high school cross country state championship meet is Saturday at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee. Several local teams and runners are legitimate state championship contenders. A look at the classes.

Class 1A

Girls at 7:50 a.m., boys at 8:40 a.m.

Notable: Christ’s Church seventh grader Tyson Manley will be a threat for years to come and he’ll challenge for a big finish here after a fourth-place finish at region. Providence’s Walker White (16:43) is ranked No. 32 in Class 1A and he’s coming off a fifth-place finish in the region. The bulk of the boys and girls championship and podium contenders in 1A are from out of the area.

Class 2A

Girls at 8:15 a.m., boys at 9:05 a.m.

Notable: Both the boys and girls races should be headlined by Bolles athletes. Aidan Ryan and Christopher Joost went 1-2 to lead the Bulldogs to the region title last week. Ryan has the fastest time in 2A this year with a 15:16.90. Joost is fourth with a 15:40.10. With Bolles’ depth, it would be a surprise if it didn’t add another team state title. Wolfson’s Andrew Marello and Bishop Kenny’s Alejandro Vinas are two other local podium contenders. The same goes for the Bulldogs’ girls, who have reigning state champion Jillian Candelino back to lead a dominant core of runners. Ella Mickler and Elizabeth Csikai followed region champ Candelino last week. Estella Bruneau was fifth. That depth is unlikely to be challenged as the team seeks a 14th state title. Episcopal’s Lucrezia Gowdy is also a solid pick for a podium spot.

Class 3A

Girls at 9:30 a.m., boys at 10:20 a.m.

Notable: The Ponte Vedra girls made history last year by winning their first team state championship, the topper on the best season ever for the Sharks. They’re coming off a region championship and have the talent to go back-to-back. Lindy White was region runner-up, with Daisy Ross and Sofia Bushkell finishing 6-7. White’s time of 17:43.30 is the fastest in 3A this year. Ross and Bushkell also rank in the top 9 in 3A. St. Augustine’s Katelyn Lawrence and Fleming Island’s Katelyn Thompson also rank in the top 20 individually in 3A. For the boys, Graham Myers of Fleming Island and Ponte Vedra’s Grant Doherty headline teams that should make it on the podium.

Class 4A

When: Girls at 9:55 a.m., boys at 10:45 a.m.

Notable: Could this be the year for the Creekside boys? They were edged for the team title last year on a tiebreaker to Viera, missing out on a third championship (2015-16). The Knights have superb depth and are coming off a region championship, buoyed by four finishers in the top 12. Tanner Simonds leads that group. He’s run a 15:40.20 this year, the No. 27 time in the state. That depth will give the Knights a chance at the team title. Nease’s Matt Ryan finished second in the region meet and will challenge Buchholz’s Emerson Miller for the individual championship. Ryan’s low of 15:21.20 this year in the region meet is ninth in the state. Creekside’s Alyson Johnson finished third at region and Oakleaf’s Sierra Barrera was fifth.

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.