2017 Spikes and Spurs Meet Preview – Girls
Saturday marks the much anticipated start of the Florida high school cross country season. The 2016 seniors have moved on to college, and fresh young runners are ready to make their marks on the Florida cross country history books. Many of the better teams worked their butts of over the summer and are excited to see the fruits of their labor as they look to compete for the first time in school uniforms in 2017. Today we are going to look at what to expect at one of the bigger meets this weekend.
The girls race is absolutely loaded with talent and the hunt for the team title will be a tough one. Some of the top teams from 2A, 3A, and 4A are scheduled to compete.
Winter Park: We can expect the girls from Central Florida to be running with a chip on their shoulder after what happened last November. The Lady Wildcats were team state champions in 2014 and 2015, they missed the hat trick in 2016 by a mere 24 pts. In most classifications, 24 points can be attributed to 1 runner, in 4A that is not normally the case as Winter Park won with 40 points in 2014 and 48 points in 2015. The Wildcats lost 3 seniors from to graduation, but look ready to roll with a strong supporting cast ready to take over. We can expect Winter Park to be lead by, Senior, Rafaella Gibbons.
Bolles: We can expect the lady Bulldogs will be running with the same tenacity and fire that we expect from the ladies from Winter Park. As one of the best teams of the last decade, the Bolles girls have finished no less than second at the FHSAA State Championships since 2007 where they placed 4th. In the following 9 years they have racked up 5 state team titles and 4 runner-ups (Never the same team). In 2016 they missed out on a 6th state title in 9 years by a mere 21 pts. Bolles lost two seniors to graduation but return a whole bunch of young girls (12) who have run under 22:00 for 5k. The Bulldogs will be lead by the defending 2A state champion, Caitlin Collier.
Ponte Vedra: The sharks who reside a few miles Southeast of the Bulldogs, will be coming in as a strong underdog this season. Last season the girls from North Florida placed 4th at the Class 3A state championships. Losing only one senior to graduation, the 2017 squad will be looking for a podium spot this November. The Sharks will be lead by , senior, Claire Moritz.
Other Schools to watch: Creekside, Nease, Spruce Creek, Lake Brantley
Rafaella Gibbons: As one of the top returns in 4A, we can expect Rafaella to be part of the conversation in any meet she is entered. With an individual cross country state title on her resume and two national championship appearances, we can expect that she will be closing out her high school career on a high note. Rafaella has a 5k PR of 17:30, which she ran at the NXN SE Region in 2015.
Caitlin Collier: The first race of the season will be a big test for Caitlin as it seems she just finished a long track season that saw her run a 2:03.32 for 800m. Caitlin is the defending Spikes and Spurs champion, having won the 2016 race in 18:49. Caitlin is the defending 2A state champion and will be looking to build on her success in the 2017 season. Caitlin has a PR of 17:41 which she ran at the NXN SE Region in 2015.
Claire Openshaw: Claire, a sophomore, enters the 2017 season as the number 3 returner in class 3A. Unfortunately for Claire, she has an uphill battle on her hands, as the two girls ranked in front of her are also 10th graders. Claire has two sisters, Colleen and Tara, who were part of a team state championship for Creekside, you can imagine that she will be looking to win a ring of her own this season. Claire has a PR of 18:28 which she ran at the FHSAA state finals in 2016.
Others to watch for: Claire Moritz, Ashley Klingenberg, Rachel Shapiro, Mary Kathryn Knott