2023-XC-Preseason-Varsity Individual (Top 15)

by Timothy Farrell, ERHS Boys Cross Country Coach

Saturday morning started with a beautiful sunrise and ended with an equally beautiful race by the East Ridge Boys Cross Country team.

The Knights competed in their first pre-season race in a number of years on Saturday Morning. The race was held by The Fellowship of Christian Athletes at the National Training Center in Clermont, Florida.

The National Training Center Course is well known for its hilly and challenging terrain. However, despite the adversity of the course, the Knights, who welcomed a number of new runners to the program, were able to pull off the win by finishing in first place. The Knights placed four of the five scorers in the top fifteen and ended with a low score of 54 points. Finishing runner-up to the Knights was Timber Creek High School with 72 points, followed by Tavares High School scoring 76 points. Rounding out the top five was Celebration and Lake Minneola High School.

The Knights were led by both new and familiar faces. The Knight who finished first for East Ridge and third overall was Freshman phenom Axel Sallault in a time of 17:07. This was a personal best for Axel who started his High School career out in impressive fashion. Axel’s performance already has placed his time as the fastest time any Freshman in East Ridge History has ever recorded. Finishing second for the Knights and fourth overall was returning Sophomore and 2022’s Freshman phenom, Caleb Walker, in a time of 17:56. Caleb also set a personal best with that time, doing it in the first race of the season. Walker and Sallault’s personal best times were not the only Knights who set personal bests. Senior Kevin Lederer also set a personal best time of 18:36, placing tenth overall. Yet another Knight ran a personal best, Sophomore Dylan McCleary, ran the race in a time of 18:37, finishing one spot below Lederer. Rounding out the scoring was yet another personal best time, with Freshman Tyce Ertel finishing 26th and in a time of 20:24. Following Ertel were a few Sophomores, Scott Bori (20:42, 29th place) and James Laack (20:52, 32nd place).

Following Laack’s finish was his brother Ethan in a time of 21:38 and 44th place. Running in his first varsity race of his career was Sophomore Chase Ensor in a personal best time of 24:06 and finishing in 66th place.

The East Ridge Junior Varsity team finished in third place at the FCA Pre-Season Invitational. The Knights had several finish in the top fifteen and medal. East Ridge was led by Freshman Christopher Stuemke who finished fifth in a time of 22:12 in his first High School race of his career. Just behind Christopher in sixth place was Sophomore Gus Vargas in a time of 22:51. finishing in thirteenth place was Freshman John Hall in a time of 25:00. Rounding out the scoring was Sophomores Owen Degges (28:41, 20th place) and Alex Stewart (29:26, 21st place).

The East Ridge Cross Country program will kick off its regular season this coming Saturday at the Whispering Pines Invitational in Inverness, Florida. The girls’ varsity race will kick off at 8:00 am, followed by the boys’ varsity and then the junior varsity races.

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