Florida Top 5 Girl’s Rankings
We are now four weeks into the Florida Cross Country Season and have decided to rank the top 5 girls in the state regardless of class. Rankings are opinion based and performance against competition is heavily favored over times run.
1 – Ana Wallace (Chiles) – Wallace comes in at number 1, not because she is the first Florida girl to break 18 this season, instead it is how well she handled a loaded field at the Buffalo Invitational on 9/16. Traveling to The Villages Ana won her race by 29 second over Natalie Abernathy of Land O’ Lakes and Lily Henne of Montverde Academy. Going into the race, there were 5 girls entered who had gone sub 19 this season, Wallace was not on that list. With track credentials of sub 5 in the 1600 and sub 11 in the 3200 she is going to be tough to beat this season.
2 – Bailey Hertenstein (Newsome) – As a junior, Hertenstein, placed 20th at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships in San Diego. She followed it up with titles in the 1600 and 3200 at the 4A state championships. This cross country season she has only been able to get in one race, the Lecanto Invitational, where she won in a time of 18:24. We will get a better idea of where she is fitness wise when she races on 10/7 at the FSU Invitational (Prestate).
3 – Caitlin Collier (Bolles) – After a long track season that saw Collier run 2:03 for 800 meters, she seems to be easing into the cross country season. Her Bolles squad debuted at the Spikes and Spurs Classic, but Collier waited until the next week and debuted at the Bale -N- Trail Original. In her debut at Bartram she ran an 18:34 beating Claire Openshaw of Creekside by 48 seconds. As an NXN National Cross Country qualifier, Collier has the speed and the endurance to be at the top of this list come November.
4 – Natalie Varela (Gulliver Prep) – On paper, Varela is the 19th ranked Florida girl by time after running 18:59 for the win at the Under the Lights/Twilight Kick Off. Her victory came after a ferocious kick in which she beat former 2A State Champion and NXN National Qualifier, Tsion Yared. Varela has placed 4th at the 2A state meet two years in a row. This sophomore will have her work cut out for her if she hopes to win a state title before she graduates. Being in 2A she will race Collier, the defending state champion, and Yared, a former state champion. With PRs of 4:54 for 1600 and 10:51 for 3200, she will be a name to watch for the next 3 years.
5 – Claire Openshaw (Creekside) – The last pick was a tough call between Openshaw and Natalie Abernathy of Land O’ Lakes. Openshaw gets the nod after opening her season with a win at the Spikes and Spurs Classic. Her time of 18:47 was 1 second faster than that of Winter Park’s Rafaella Gibbons. She followed up her win with a second place finish to Collier at the Bale -N- Trail Original. Openshaw was the 6th place finisher at the 3A cross country championships and ran sub 5 for 1600 and sub 11 for 3200 on the track.