The 2023 Florida high school cross country season is right around the corner, and the race for the 1A girls state title looks to be extremely competitive once again.
Defending state champion Oak Hall School will look to capture their 5th title in the last 6 seasons, but face a major challenge from runner-up Cambridge Christian School. Cambridge won the state title in 2021 and brings back defending individual state champion Eliana Black (17:15.50 5k PR) along with a key transfer in Ava Hendrix (19:01 5k) from Lake Minneola High School.
Maclay School, which has won 5 all-time state titles with the last coming in 2005, figures to contend as well. They are led by a strong top 5 of Susan Gracie Koeppel, Lillian Koeppel, Caroline Couch, Mary Clayton Soto, and Kassidy Moninger, who all run sub-20 5k times.
Pensacola Christian Academy, Circle Christian School, and the Benjamin School should also be in the mix after finishing top 6 at last year’s state meet.
Top individuals to watch include defending champ Black of Cambridge Christian along with her teammate Madeline Gear. Other top returners Include RaeAnne Tutton (Pensacola Christian), Reagan Smith (Pensacola Christian), and Mackenzie Klein (Oak Hall). Freshmen Ava Wyant of The Master’s Academy and Rachel Judy of Circle Christian both have sub-19 5k PRs and could be podium contenders.
The championship battle looks to be a race between defending champions Oak Hall and last year’s runner-up Cambridge Christian. These two elite programs have traded state titles and have developed an intense rivalry. Both teams return loaded squads capable of bringing home the trophy. However, don’t count out the Maclay School as a potential spoiler. Led by the Koeppel sisters and a storied history of championship success, Maclay has the talent to sneak in and grab their first state title since 2005 if everything aligns perfectly.
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