Leon High School rising senior Patrick Koon has already cemented himself as one of the most dominant prep runners in Florida history. But this fall, he’ll look to join truly rarefied company by capturing an elusive third consecutive individual Class 3A cross-country state championship.

Koon, coached by Leon’s Andrew Wills, is coming off a legendary junior campaign in 2022. He first captured the 3A title in a sizzling 14:56.7, the fastest time ever run by a Florida high schooler at the state meet. Koon defeated a loaded field that included talented runners like Joseph Ruiz (15:37) and Graham Myers (15:42), who went 2-3 behind the Leon phenom.

His success carried over to the track season, where Koon shattered the state 3200m record by running a stunning 8:44.95 at the prestigious Arcadia Invitational in California. That blistering time took down the previous Florida prep best of 8:47.43 set by former Nease star Rheinhardt Harrison. Koon cemented his season by claiming the 3A state 3200m crown as well in 8:58.83.

Indoors, Koon finished 4th in the 5K at the New Balance Nationals in 14:11.92, establishing himself as one of the top prep distance runners in the entire nation.

Now gearing up for his senior cross-country campaign, Koon has a chance to join exclusive company in Florida history by winning a third straight individual XC title. He will bid to cement his legacy among the state’s prep legends. But it will be no easy task, as Florida’s 2023 field is shaping up to be as competitive as ever.

Leon High has a storied history of standout runners, including two others besides Koon who have won multiple individual cross-country crowns under coach Wills – Sukhi Khosla and Matt Mizereck. Khosla captured back-to-back 3A titles in 2013 and 2014.  Mizereck set the gold standard for Leon harriers by winning three straight from 2007 to 2009, a feat Koon can match this season.

Koon’s chief rivals will include the aforementioned Ruiz and Myers, who both return hungry for victory after going 2-3 behind the Leon star in 2022. Ruiz in particular will be eager to move up after an outstanding sophomore season that saw him run 15:37 at state. His team qualified for the prestigious Nike Cross Nationals, where they placed 14th.

Emerging as another top challenger will be Marcelo Mantecon, a rising 9th grader from Belen Jesuit Prep. Despite his youth, Mantecon proved himself as a force last season by placing 6th at the 3A state meet in 15:52 as just an 8th grader. He later demonstrated elite talent by running 9:14 for 3200 meters on the track. Mantecon has clearly indicated he will be in the mix for the individual title over the next few years.

Beyond the known contenders, there is sure to be a handful of newcomers and returning runners looking to make their mark in the pursuit of denying Koon’s three-peat bid. Florida is home to tremendous depth and tradition in cross country, meaning any runner looking to peak at the state meet could potentially throw their name in the ring.

If Koon manages to complete the three-peat, it would also culminate an outstanding four-year high school career that has seen him develop from a promising prospect into one of the nation’s premier prep distance stars. After showing steady improvement throughout his first three seasons under coach Wills’ tutelage, Koon put it all together as a junior in 2022 to cement himself as Florida’s finest.

Now as a senior facing his final high school cross-country season, Koon will surely be more motivated than ever to cap his legacy with a third straight triumph. It’s the kind of challenge that the ultra-competitive Koon seems born to embrace.

While the individual glory would be special, Koon will also aim to lead Leon in challenging Belen Jesuit’s run of consecutive 3A boys team titles. Belen Jesuit has won each year since 2017 and returns six of its top seven from another championship squad in 2022. Leon brings back its entire lineup from 2022 and will look to unseat the cross-country juggernaut.

With a mix of individual and team glory on the line, the 2023 seaon is setting up to be a must follow for prep running fans. All eyes will be on Leon’s Patrick Koon as he bids for historic individual fame, while the boy’s team title looks destined for an exciting clash between two titans in Leon and Belen Jesuit.

If Koon can complete the three-peat while leading Leon to dethrone Belen’s dynasty, it would mark one of the most storied capstones by any graduating senior in state history. But it will require holding off both a stacked field of individuals and a formidable program rival hungry to cement their own legacy.

Get ready for an unforgettable season!