ERHS Girls Varsity Team at the Start Line at the West Orange Invitational (from L to R) Taylor Walker, Adriana Mustin, Veronica Peterson, Hanna Warren, Madi McCormack, Neely Lugo, and Rhyen Foley
By Coach Grant Mollett, Girls Cross Country
 Photos contributed by Jeff Warren and Dave Worthington.
Winter Garden, Florida  (September 23)
The East Ridge High School girls cross country team competed in the West Orange High School Invitational in Winter Garden on Saturday morning. The first race after the fall equinox provided a temperature of 69 degrees at the race’s start. Almost one year ago to the date, the girls’ team competed in the West Orange Invitational. Last season, the Knights finished as the team runner-up out of twenty-two complete teams at West Orange.  As it were, this time around, the girls had their sights set even higher! What did it take to raise the bar this season? In all, seven career personal best times, six current season personal best times, and one new school record were set by the Knights this morning!

Veronica Peterson, Hanna Warren, and Rhyen Foley lead the Knights’ Charge at the Start of the West Orange Invitational!

Girls from 30 different schools throughout Central Florida participated in the West Orange High School Invitational today.  The varsity girls’ race started at 7:15 AM. The start of the race took the girls across some athletic fields near the football stadium. Then, the course took the runners around two loops around the back end of the campus, rounding some soccer fields, and through a small wooded area.

Sophomore Rhyen Foley sets a new school record of 18:59 and finishes third overall at the West Orange Invitational!

For the fourth time this season, sophomore Rhyen Foley was the first Knight to cross the finish line!  Rhyen quickly put herself in the mix with the fastest girls in the large field of runners (154 total varsity girls) at West Orange – to include last season’s Class 4A District individual champion, Emily Knophle from Olympia High School. At the two-mile mark, Foley was spotted in second place and slightly behind the leader, Ava Wyant from the Master’s Academy. Spotted further into the third mile, Foley had overtaken Wyant, and briefly put herself in the lead! Going for it all has been a weekly occurrence for Foley this season, and this morning it took her to a third-place finish at West Orange.  Although she was unable to secure her lead through the finish, she challenged two of the best in the area, including Knophle who ultimately took first place this morning. For some perspective, last season’s district championship was actually held at West Orange on the same course, where Knophle won her individual title. On that day, she finished two-and-a-half minutes ahead of Foley, but this time around, she was merely seven seconds ahead of Foley.  Foley’s efforts this morning also secured her a new career personal best and set a new East Ridge High School 5K record! She finished in a swift time of 18:59, becoming the first girl in East Ridge’s twenty-two-year history to break the 19:00 mark!

Sophomore Veronica Peterson takes fourth place overall at the West Orange Invitational!

Sophomore Veronica Peterson put down yet another stellar performance at West Orange, as she was the second Knight through the finish this morning.  She placed fourth overall and finished in a time of 19:26! Peterson’s performance was fifty seconds faster than her performance at the West Orange Invitational last season and she now has the second-fastest time set by an East Ridge runner at the Invitational in school history!

Junior Hanna Warren Approaching the Finish Line at the West Orange Invitational

Junior Hanna Warren was the third Knight to finish this morning.  Warren placed twelfth overall and finished in a time of 20:20 – her second-fastest time of the season. 

Sophomore Adriana Mustin Approaching the Finish Line at West Orange

Sophomore Adriana Mustin, freshman Taylor Walker, and junior Neely Lugo claimed finishing spots 27th, 28th, and 29th. The three Knights stayed in close proximity throughout the race, overtaking opponent after opponent, and pushing the Knights closer and closer to a victory. In the last mile, the three went for a negative split, and overcame even more opponents, and prevented opponents from separating their pack of three. Mustin finished in 21:32, which was a new season personal best! Walker finished in 21:40 – her second-fastest time of the season. Lugo finished in 20:41, which was a new career personal best! Junior Madi McCormack was the seventh Knight to finish, as she placed 77th overall and in a time of 24:20.

Hanna Warren, Veronica Peterson, and Rhyen Foley in the Medal Line

East Ridge High School took top honors out of 17 complete teams at the West Orange Invitational! This was the Knights’ third invitational team championship this season and the first time in school history winning the West Orange Invitational.

Girls Varsity Team with the First Place Team Trophy at West Orange!

Additionally, the Knights were able to outperform all of the Class 4A District 2 rivals that competed at West Orange this morning! East Ridge defeated six District 2 teams, including Olympia, Oviedo, Windermere, West Orange, Lake Brantley, and Ocoee! The overall individual winner for the girls’ varsity race was junior Emily Knopfle from Olympia High School. Knopfle finished today’s race in a swift time of 18:52.

ERHS Junior Varsity Girls Charge Across the Starting Field at West Orange!

The Knights also had thirteen runners participate in the girls junior varsity race this morning at West Orange High School. Senior Lina Maldonado placed fifth out of a field of 72 junior varsity girls! She finished in a time of 23:19 – which tied her career personal best which she set at the district championships last season at West Orange! Freshman Lexi Whitehead finished in eighth place overall and in a time of 23:36 – a new career/season personal best time by almost three minutes!

Lina Maldonado and Lexi Whitehead in the Medal Line after the Junior Varsity Race at West Orange

Junior J’Mariana Douglas finished in 23rd place overall and in a time of 26:56 – a new season-best record! Senior Sarah Tingler placed 26th overall and finished in a time of 27:12 – a new season personal best! Senior Karlie Saintlot placed 32nd overall and finished in a time of 28:29 – a new career personal best by over twenty seconds! Senior Kayden Page followed in her teammate, placing 33rd overall and finishing in 28:49 – a new season personal best!

Sophomore Alyssa Schact came in 35th place and finished in a time of 28:50 – a new career/season-best performance! Sophomore Shane George finished in 39th place in a time of 29:52 – a new season-best performance! Freshman Yeidy Diaz finished in 42nd place in a time of 30:40 in her debut as a Knight! Junior Bianca Brauti-Heidemann finished in 50th place in a time of 31:44. Junior Isabella Stuemke finished in 55th place and in a time of 32:20 – a new season personal best performance! Junior Lola Gallissot finished in 58th place in a time of 33:10 – a new career/season personal best performance! Freshman Nicolly Silva finished in 67th place and in a time of 39:25 in her debut as a Knight!

For full results for the girls’ varsity and junior varsity races at the West Orange High School Invitational visit:

The girls’ cross country team will travel to Tallahassee next weekend to participate in the FSU Invitational and Pre-State Cross Country Meet at Apalachee Regional Park.

The girls will compete in the Elite Division at 7:40 am on Saturday, September 30th.

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