Article and Pictures by Grant Mollett, M.ED
East Ridge High School

Hernando Beach, Florida: The East Ridge High School girls cross country team traveled to the nature coast to compete in the Weeki Wachee Invitational at the Weeki Wachee Preserve.  The Preserve, a former limestone rock quarry, is now a beautiful mosaic of forest, man-made water sources, and hiking and cycling trails that is managed by the Southwest Florida Water Management District.  The course is mostly gravel and grass, which make for a rocky and uneven trail to run. The course, a single loop, circles one of the beautiful lakes within the Preserve.  The temperature sat at 70 degrees with clear skies just after sunrise in the Preserve, which yielded great weather conditions for the morning’s meet.

Girls from more than eighteen different schools predominantly from the gulf coast of Florida competed in the Weeki Wachee Invitational this morning.  The girls’ varsity race started promptly at 8:00 am.  Senior Reagan Parks, once again, led the Knights.  Reagan placed fifth in a field of 138 varsity female runners with a finish time of 20:44.   The second Knight to finish was junior Mackenzie Hill.   Mackenzie finished in 11th place in a time of 21:18 – improving her season-best performance by two seconds.

The third Knight to finish was junior Olivia Peine.  Olivia placed 30th overall, and finished the morning’s race in a time of 23:00 – another season personal best for the fourth consecutive week!  The fourth runner for the Knights was junior Mia Vogel-Lag.  Mia placed 49th overall and posted a finish time of 24:11.  The fifth runner for the girls varsity team was junior Heidy Castillo.  Heidy placed 57th in a finish time of 24:54 to round out the Knights’ scoring positions. Heidy’s time from this morning was a new career personal best performance, and she has improved by more than two minutes since her first race six weeks ago.  Junior Caitlyn Cavender finished sixth for the Knights. She placed 98th in a time of 27:19.

The East Ridge girls team also had three runners participate in the junior varsity race this morning.  Freshman Bre Peine placed fifth in a field of 79 junior varsity runners and finished in a time of 25:41.  Sophomore “Peppa” Marin finished in 10th place in a new career personal best time of 26:24.  Lastly, sophomore Mansi Patel finished in 49th place, and in a time of 33:23.

As a team, the East Ridge girls varsity team placed sixth out of eighteen scoring teams. George M. Steinbrenner High School took first place by placing their first five finishers in the top twenty.  The individual champion at the Weeki Wachee Invitational this morning was senior Megan Hughes of Academy of Holy Names in Tampa.  Megan finished in a swift time of 18:32.   East Ridge’s girls cross country team will compete in the Windermere Invitational at Lake Louisa State Park in Clermont on Saturday, October 5th.

For full results from the Weeki Wachee Invitational visit