The Daily News’ coverage area was well-represented at the Florida High School Cross Country State Championships on Saturday in Tallahassee.
TALLAHASSEE — Cross-country season has come to a close on the Emerald Coast, but Kambry Smith did her best to send it out with a bang.
One year after placing 28th at the state 5K, the Fort Walton Beach junior vaulted herself into fifth place on Saturday morning at the 3A Florida High School Cross Country State Championships at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee.
Smith finished the race in just 18 minutes, 15.74 seconds, almost 84 seconds faster than her 2018 showing. For reference, state champion Valerie Lastra out of Mater Academy in Hialeah Gardens finished in 17:29.44.
The performance left both her coaches and her opponents in awe.
“Kambry ran an awesome race,” Niceville coach Jaime LaFollette said.
But Smith was hardly the only runner from the Daily News’ coverage area to compete this weekend in Tallahassee, so let’s break down the results:
Baker senior Maya Espinosa spearheaded the Gator girls’ 15th-place finish Saturday, placing 30th overall in a field of 226 runners with a time of 20:20.01.
Also for the Gators, seventh-grader Kaylin Olivarez placed 67th in 21:26.53, freshman Eliana Butler placed 87th in 22:01.29, sophomore Gabriela Espinosa placed 144th in 23:08.63, eighth-grader Karley Bishop placed 165th in 23:46.29, sophomore Maci Bussanmus placed 182nd in 24:15.21 and senior Allison Morse placed 198th in 24:46.18.
On the boys’ side, Paxton junior Eugene Hall led the Bobcats to an 18th-place finish, finishing 48th in a field of 232 with a time of 17:41.48.
Also for the Bobcats, senior Phillip Anderson placed 54th in 17:46.93, sophomore Caleb Wibbing placed 83rd in 18:15.04, junior Nick Johnson placed 127th in 18:47.66, senior Phillip Gaither placed 165th in 19:26.41 and sophomore Louie Geoghagan placed 216th in 21:19.01.
Seemingly always in contention, coach Willie Parker’s South Walton teams both turned in solid performances Saturday, the Seahawk girls placing 13th and the boys 28th in the state 2A meet.
Junior Patasha Bryan led the Seahawk girls, placing 38th in a field of 222 with a time of 19:54.67, and freshman Ava Flaherty was right behind her, placing 39th in 19:58.73.
Further on down, freshman Dafne Lucero placed 110th in 21:29.66, junior Aris Short placed 119th in 21:36.02, sophomore Heidi Scali placed 125th in 21:44.95, sophomore Elizabeth Turner placed 201st in 24:29.39 and freshman Laurel Blazer placed 211th in 25:20.48.
On the boys’ side, senior Jacob D’Aleo placed 52nd in a field of 230 with a time 17:12.72, junior Chadwick Phillips placed 116th in 18:09.69, junior Cooper Blazer placed 144th in 18:33.88, senior Gavin Morris placed 171st in 18:55.79, freshman Logan Sheehan placed 227th in 20:54.81 and junior Christopher Jones placed 230th in 22:32.50.
In addition to Smith’s outstanding day, the rest of her Viking teammates put in solid performances Saturday at the state 3A meet, the girls placing 14th and the boys 16th
For the girls, senior Caroline Orcutt placed 77th in a field of 230 with a time of 20:37.75, junior Jensen Shonk placed 79th in 20:38.26, freshman Joey Shonk placed 124th in 21:37.34, junior Alissa Horton placed 137th in 22:00.30, junior Anna Davis placed 148th in 22:13.43 and sophomore Abigail Kline placed 154th in 22:19.79.
For the boys, junior Chris Flores placed 74th in a field of 231 with a time of 17:12.73, junior Ryan Sloan placed 102nd in 17:28.27, junior Jacob Talmadge placed 110th in 17:33.24, sophomore Luke Bilger placed 121st in 17:40.19, freshman Luke Endt placed 123rd in 17:42.44, sophomore Luke Larkin placed 135th in 17:54.10 and senior Aubrey Murray placed 228th in 20:50.35.
Likewise, Choctaw’s cross-country teams also had strong showings, the boys placing 11th and the girls 16th.
For the boys, junior Darius Johnson placed 24th in 16:34.83, senior Bryan Jonson placed 59th in 17:05.79, freshman Kaleb Hollins placed 76th in 17:13.25, sophomore William Armbruster placed 81st in 17:15.85, junior Christian Sterman placed 84th in 17:17.27, senior Jacob Knox placed 155th in 18:06.35 and junior Francesco Paone placed 156th in 18:07.13.
For the girls, sophomore Chloe Fernander placed 32nd in 19:50.34, sophomore Deanna Bottino placed 42nd in 20:00.12, freshman Brylie Kilgore placed 107th in 21:15.58, sophomore Dannika Kilgore placed 153rd in 22:19.69, junior Alison Boyle palced 157th in 22:23.91, freshman Sky Long placed 172nd in 22:45.89 and junior Amanda George placed 207th 23:49.13.
Finally, Niceville, flexing up to 4A this year, managed to overcome some cramping issues to turn in a solid performance, its girls placing 17th and its boys 10th.
“Overall I am very proud of the team and what they have accomplished this year,” LaFollette said. “It was the fifth consecutive year both teams advanced to state.”
In a field of 230, junior Lillian Holtery paced the Eagle girls with her 19th-place finish in 19:08.20, senior Erin Converse placed 113th in 20:34.20, sophomore Erika Bobek placed 117th in 20:37.90, sophomore Ainslee Bobek placed 120th in 20:41.00, sophomore Sophia Dedmore placed 135th in 20:54.10, junior Elizabeth Segars placed 138th in 20:56.40 and junior Paige Kelly placed 171st in 21:38.80.
Meanwhile, freshman Kaden Levings placed 12th for the Eagle boys, finishing in 15:58.41 against a field of 238. Senior Finn Hodge placed 61st in 16:38.62, senior Jake Dever placed 71st in 16:44.24, senior Dane Dickerson placed 107th in 17:04.11, senior Thomas Eggers placed 122nd in 17:10.97, junior Todd Wendel placed 139th in 17:16.50 and sophomore Parker Nunley placed 167th in 17:35.18.