With a little over 3 weeks left until the FLYRA Middle School State Championships, it is high time we start talking about who we expect to be atop the podium in the end of October. Middle and elementary school athletics tend to play second fiddle to their high school counterparts, despite participation that numbers in the thousands. Today we are going to take a look at who we believe are the top middle school individuals going into the state meet.
Individual Girls Rankings
To start off the 2022 rankings, we must first go back and look at what happened in the 2021 FLYRA state cross country meet. The articles leading up to race day had all but crowned Eliana Black the 2021 state champion, one article even proclaimed that she was “Florida’s greatest middle school distance runner ever.” There is, however, a reason why we don’t award championships until the race is over.
On an early Saturday morning in October the, FLYRA, defending state meet champion Eliana Black was upset by a relatively unknown (at least to me) fifth grader by the name of Annabella Tomasic in a state meet record time of 10:26 for 3k. Black finished her storied FLYRA XC career 10 seconds back, good for 2nd, in time of 10:36. Tomasic went on to win the 11-12 year old AAU National Cross Country Championship title in a time of 10:25.
On the public-school side, we saw Cheyenne Thomas of Tavares Middle School defend her state title winning in a time of 10:58. Cheyenne’s victory was 35 seconds faster than the second-place competitor, which had to be a sigh of relief as her 2020 margin of victory was only 1/10th of a second. Cheyenne will be hoping to help her Tavares Patriots defend their 2021 state team title.
Top 5 Girls as we see it
Annabella Tomasic (The Christ School)
– Although she has no XC results this season, it would be hard to leave her off the top spot. She is the defending private school state champion, the state meet record holder, and an AAU XC National Champion. In the spring of 2022 she ran 5:20 for 1600 meters, which would place her ahead of most of her competitors. Until she is beat, or it comes out she is not participating, she is who we feel is the #1 ranked middle school girl in Florida. She has run a road 5k this season, finishing 2nd at the Battle of the Bands 5k in a mind boggling 17:48.
Cheyenne Thomas (Tavares Middle School)
– The top ranked public-school athlete comes in as the number 2 ranked girl on our list. As mentioned above, Cheyenne is the 2 time defending public school state champion and is in the driver seat to defend her state title on 10/29. Cheyenne recently won the Katie Caples Middle School Invitational in a meet record time of 10:43.
Lainee Mercer (Hillsborough Harriers)
– Lainee has had a great 7th grade season so far. She’s won the Jim Ryun Invite, the Florida Horse Park Invitational, the Lecanto Invitational, and the St. Leo Abbey Invitational. Mercer’s only loss this season came from Run Florida Run’s #2 ranked Cheyenne Thomas. Lainee is currently our favorite to win the Club section of the FLYRA State Championships.
Sydney Johnson (No Excuses)
– Sydney has opened her 7th grade season with victories at the Eagles on the River 3k and the Bale N Trail Invitational. She also had a runner up finish to Cheyenne at the Katie Caples Invitational. She will be looking to lead her No Excuses team to a club state title in a few weeks.
Charlotte Sikes (Swift Creek Middle School)
– Charlotte is currently undefeated this season with a best time of 10:58. She has yet to race anyone in the top 5 so it is hard to say whether this is a fair ranking. She did win the LCS MS Opener at Apalachee Regional Park in a time of 11:33.
Honorable Mention: Avery Hartley, Gianna Gyurich, Emily Pymm, Sofia Stam
These rankings are purely the opinion of the author. We believe that a race is not won until it has been run. If you’d like to discuss the rankings, please feel free to join our Forum or our Facebook group.