2017 Alligator Lake Invitational Girls Preview
The 9th Edition of the Alligator Lake Invitational is looking like it can be one of the best meets to happen this year. On the girls side we see 2A Powerhouse, Bolles, take on the extremely good 3A teams of Niceville, Chiles, Creekside, and Ponte Vedra. Below we take a look at what we believe will take place in the races.
Bolles – I am not sure anyone can be certain how good Bolles is. In the first race of the season, the Bulldogs, held out their top two runners Caitlin Collier and Rachel Shapiro. In the next race they held out the majority of their varsity team, while running Collier and Shapiro. Most recently at the Katie Caples Invite, they placed 6 runners in the top 9 places without the help of Collier. If they run full strength they might be unbeatable this season.
Niceville – Making the trip down from the panhandle, the Lady Eagles have yet to see any real competition this season. The defending 3A state champions lost 2 seniors from their 2016 team, but picked up a very good 9th grader, Lillian Holtery, who is undefeated this season with a 5k PR of 18:22.
Chiles – The Timberwolves from Tallahassee are another powerhouse that will be toeing the line on Saturday. The last time these ladies raced, they placed 2nd to Montverde Academy at the Buffalo Invitational in The Villages. Chiles has a very strong 1-2 punch in Ana Wallace and Emily Culley.
Other Teams to watch:
McIntosh(GA) – On paper they are the best team in the race. Looking at PRs,however, everyone ran their best on the same course at the beginning of the season. Four of the top five runners have averaged 44 seconds slower in their proceeding races.
Creekside – Lead by Claire Openshaw, this will be a good chance for the Knights to see where they stand in the pursuit to return to the top of the 3A podium.
Ponte Vedra – The Sharks placed 2nd at Katie Caples behind Bolles, with Claire Moritz taking the overall win. This team is loaded with seniors who will be hungry this November.
Caitlin Collier (Bolles) – Collier’s only race this season was at the Bale -N- Trail Original, where she won in a time of 18:34. Collier has the endurance of NXN National Qualifier and the leg speed of one of the best middle distance runners in the United States. If she is anywhere near the front with 400 meters to go, there is no one in the race that can outkick her. We have her currently ranked number 3 in the state based off of her lack of racing, but expect that to change after this weekend.
Ana Wallace (Chiles) – Wallace is coming off of her first sub 18:00 performance at the Buffalo Invitational in The Villages. The senior from Chiles has a promising career ahead of her with PRs of 4:57 and 10:54 on the track. If she can put together a race like she did at the Buffalo Invitational, she could give Collier a run for her money!
Lillian Holtery (Niceville) – Holtery comes into the race as the underdog, despite being undefeated this season. The 9th grader has posted winning times of 19:09, 19:13 and 18:22. What’s more impressive is each victory was by over 20 seconds. Holtery is a great pickup by a Niceville team that hopes to defend their 3A state title. If she keeps progressing, she might bring home an individual title as well.
Others to Watch:
Claire Openshaw (Creekside) – Won the Spikes and Spurs Invitational and placed second at Bale -N- Trail.
Claire Moritz (Ponte Vedra) – Moritz is coming off a big win at the Katie Caples Invitational.
Megan Uszynski (McIntosh) – Uszynski is the top athlete making the trip down from Georgia. She comes in with a season best time of 18:26.
Grace Blair (Oak Hall) – With a season best of 18:46, this multiple time state champion has a pedigree as good as anyone in the field.