Submitted by Grant Mollett, M.ED.
East Ridge High School
Gainesville (November 2) Friday morning the East Ridge High School girls cross country season came to an end with the conclusion of the Class 4A Region 1 Meet at Santa Fe College in Gainesville. The meet showcased some of the best female runners in the state of Florida. The top six teams and the top fifteen individuals at the regional meet qualified for the FHSAA State Finals. However, ten teams’ and dozens of individuals’ seasons ended with the close of the day’s competition. For East Ridge High School the day’s meet was in part a celebration of a successful and improved season, but it was also an opportunity to see how they stacked up against some of the best teams in the state.
Girls from 26 different schools made up a field of 123 total runners who all competed Friday morning in the Class 4A Region 1 Meet. The girls’ race went off at 8:00 AM. It had been five years since East Ridge’s girls’ team had qualified for a regional meet. Last season, the Knights had only one female runner qualify for the regional meet – Reagan Parks. This season the girls qualified as a team by placing second in the Class 4A District 3 Meet last Friday at West Orange High School. With the sound of the starter pistol, the girls were off, and the Knights ran hard to make their mark in a very talented and competitive region.
The first Knight through the finish chute was senior Alexis Hill. Alexis put down a fast first mile, as she hoped to stay with the region’s top girls. She rounded the first-mile marker in a time of 5:52, which had her spotted in nineteenth place. As the race continued, Alexis lost some positions in the second and third mile. She put everything she had left into her finish, and crossed the line in 20:48. Alexis placed 41stoverall in her first regional meet of her high school career, and her last cross country meet of her high school career. Though Alexis did not qualify for the state finals, she did have some outstanding performances as a senior. She led her team in seven of the ten meets this season. Additionally, she set a school record for the three-mile course – a time of 20:15. She also placed fourth in last week’s district race – an accomplishment she had been working toward since the end of her junior season.
The second Knight to cross the finish line was junior Reagan Parks. Reagan finished the regional meet in a time of 21:03 and placed 49thoverall. Compared to last season’s regional meet, Reagan improved her position by eleven spots. Reagan also had some season highlights in addition to her regional performance. She led her team in three of the ten meets this season. Additionally, Reagan set a season-best time of 20:50 at the district meet last week, and secured eighth place in the district. Reagan is already looking forward to leading the Knights next season and will work hard to help her team improve.
The third Knight to finish was senior Cassidy Carroll. Cassidy’s regional performance landed her a new career personal best time – 21:34. Her improvement from her first meet of the season to Friday’s regional meet was more than three minutes. After sitting out most of last season due to injury, Cassidy trained hard in the off-season to get herself ready for her senior season. Four different times Cassidy set career personal best times throughout this season, as she finished her high school cross country career.
The fourth Knight to finish was sophomore Mackenzie Hill. Mackenzie finished in a time of 21:59 – her second best time of the season. Sophomores Emy Wells and Olivia Peine were the fifth and sixth runners to finish for the Knights. Emy ran a career personal best time at the regional meet – 23:30. Olivia finished the regional meet just seconds behind her teammate in 23:32 – her third-best time of the season. The three sophomores were major reasons for East Ridge’s success this season, and they will play even bigger roles for the team next year.
The seventh Knight to finish was senior Eliya Anderson. Eliya’s regional performance was hindered by some late season muscle soreness. Despite the pain, Eliya put out one last performance for herself and her teammates. Finishing in 25:10, Eliya’s high school cross country career came to a close. This season Eliya set a career personal best and improved by more than two minutes over the course of the season.
East Ridge will graduate its four seniors who have left behind a legacy of hard work and success. This group of seniors has experienced setbacks, such as injuries and defeat at district meets. However, they took lessons from each of those setbacks and worked extremely hard to write the final chapter of their cross country careers. The returning runners will have to push themselves to add to that legacy and leave their mark on East Ridge’s running program.
East Ridge finished fifteenth out of sixteen complete teams. The six female teams from Class 4A Region 1 that qualified for the state meet were Lake Brantley, Fleming Island, Winter Springs, Mandarin, Winter Park, and Lake Mary. Lake Brantley won the regional championship by placing three girls in the top twelve. Fleming Island was the regional runner-up, and clinched that spot by placing four girls in the top 25. Freshman Amber Schulz of Timber Creek High School was the individual regional champion, as she finished in a time of 18:20 to claim her regional crown. These teams and other qualifying individuals will compete at the FHSAA State Finals in Tallahassee on Saturday, November 10.
For full results from the Class 4A Region 1 Meet, visit https://fl.milesplit.com/meets/324522/results/620361/formatted#.W-AwgC2ZORt.
Over the past season, Grant’s articles on the ERHS Girls Cross Country Team have been enjoyed by the readers of the SOUTH LAKE TABLET. We hope you continue to provide great new with us.
Thank you Grant.
Michelle Delaney, Owner & Editor
SOUTH LAKE TABLET