ERHS Team at the LMHS meet (photo courtesy of Dave Worthington)

by Grant Mollett, M.Ed., East Ridge High School

Minneola (September 15) It had been two years since the East Ridge High School girls cross country team had competed at the Hawk Invitational at Lake Minneola High School.  Back then, the Knights opened their 2016 season with a disappointing fifth-place team finish out of a total of five teams. This time around a different story was to be told. On Saturday, the Knights had their opportunity to rewrite their history, as they at Lake Minneola High School.

Girls from 14 different schools throughout Central Florida participated in this morning’s meet.  The starter’s pistol went off at 7:30, and the field of girls headed into a blinding sunrise across the athletic fields of Lake Minneola’s campus.  East Ridge’s first runner came across the finish line was senior Alexis Hill.  Alexis improved from her 2016 performance by nearly three minutes with a finish time of 21:31 and placing 13thout of a field of 117 female runners.  Junior Reagan Parks came through the finish chute second for the Knights.  Reagan improved considerably from her 2016 Hawk Invitational finish time as well.  She finished in a time of 21:42, which was more than a six-minute improvement from her freshman performance.  Reagan finished in 16thplace this morning.

The start (photo courtesy of Dave Worthington)

The third Knight to finish was senior Cassidy Carroll.  Cassidy finished in 27thplace with a finish time of 23:14. Cassidy’s performance was nearly a four-minute improvement from her 2016, showing at the Hawk Invitational. Sophomore Mackenzie Hill was the fourth scorer for the varsity team this morning.  She placed 33rdand came across the line in a time of 23:58. The fifth runner for the Knights was sophomore Emy Wells.  She placed 36thand posted a time of 24:05.  Senior Eliya Anderson was the sixth runner for East Ridge this morning.  Eliya placed 42ndand finished in a time of 24:44 – a three-minute improvement from her sophomore year’s performance at the Hawk Invitational. Sophomore Olivia Peine was the seventh Knight to finish the race, and she placed 43rdoverall in a time of 24:48.

Individual improvement from the team’s veteran runners propelled the Knights to place third out of 14 schools that fielded complete teams at this year’s Hawk Invitational. East Ridge was able to fend off district rivals Olympia High School and Lake Minneola High School, who placed fourth and fifth overall, respectively.  Montverde Academy took first overall in the team scores by securing the first and second positions and placing three more girls in the top ten.  The overall winner for the girls’ varsity race was Lily Henne from Montverde Academy. She finished the race in a time of 18:29.

The girls cross country team will participate in the Annual Darter Invitational on Saturday, September 22 at the Northwest Recreation Complex in Apopka, Florida.

For full results from the Early Hawk Invitational visit

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