2017 Buffalo Invitational Girls Preview
With the state still recovering in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, many of this weekend’s scheduled cross country races have been canceled or postponed. Luckily, The Villages have decided to run their home meet as planned and have attracted some of the best teams and individuals in the state of Florida.
Citrus Park Christian: On paper, CPC is the team to beat this season in the state of Florida. The girls from Tampa ran lightning quick times at the Babe Zaharias Twilight Challenge the first week of the season. At the Lecanto Invite the girls averaged almost 40 seconds slower per runner. This week will serve as a good test as they race 2 other top 10 Florida teams in Montverde Academy and Chiles.
Chiles: Chiles returned all 7 runners from last year’s 3A Runner-Up team. Lead by a strong 1-2 punch in Anna Wallace and Emily Culley this team is one that could be at the top of the 3A podium this November. Having won the Cougar XC Challenge and the Big Bend Cross Country Invitational, the weekend will be the first time they see any real competition.
Montverde Academy: This is another young team that returns all 7 runners from their 2016 team. Last year the Eagles placed 4th behind Pine Crest, Bolles, and Satellite at the 2A State meet. Unfortunately, most of the top teams in 2A returned the core of their teams. Montverde Academy is lead by the 1-2 punch of Kendyl Cardwell and Lily Henne. If their number 5 can find a way to close the gap to number 4, this team could sneak into the top 2 on Saturday.
Others to watch out for: Lake Highland Prep, Berkeley Prep
Anna Wallace (Chiles) – On paper, Wallace is the 6th best girl entering the meet based on times. She however is the only one in the field with PRs of sub 5:00 in the 1600 and sub 11:00 in the 3200. The 19:01 that she ran at the Big Bend Cross Country Invitational was 19 seconds faster than 2nd place and 55 seconds faster than 3rd. Wallace is the 4th seeded returner 3A but might be the favorite in November as two of her biggest rivals (Alyson Churchill and Valerie Lastra) have yet to run this season.
Rebecca Clark(The Villages) – I believe that racing in your back yard has its advantages, and this might be enough to propel Clark ahead of the field. Clark debuted the season with a win at the Whisper Pines Invitational, in a quick 18:55 bettering 2nd place by over a minute. If we use time as a measuring stick for predictions, we have to use margin of victory just as much as we use season bests. At Whispering Pines Clark beat Sarah Magee (Steinbrenner) by 1:59, with more competition Abanses was only able to beat Magee by 1:17.
Jacqueline Abanses (Citrus Park Christian) – Abanses comes in with the fastest time having run 18:26 for the win at the Babe Zaharias Twilight Challenge. She followed that up with a second place finish the Lecanto Invitational in a time of 19:12. Abanses finished 5th at the FLYRA State meet while in middle school, and will be looking to help take her team to the podium in November.
Others to watch for: Kendyl Cardwell, Lily Henne, Emily Culley