Apalachee Regional Park will host 2022 high school championships – Tallahassee Democrat

Apalachee Regional Park will host 2022 high school championships – Tallahassee Democrat

There is something special about this time of year, more than just the leaves falling from trees. Rather, it is the winding up of high school and middle school cross country competition.
On Nov. 5, Tallahassee will host the 2022 high school state championship for cross country at the Apalachee Regional Park, affectionately known as the “ARP,“ which is one of the premier cross country parks in the United States.
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It is a great place to run and maybe even better for watching a cross country meet. More than 1,800 runners are expected to run one of the championships. Each runner brings at least two family members and friends to watch the competition and fill up Tallahassee restaurants and hotels. 
Saturday’s competition is the culmination of three weeks of competition to crown a boys’ and girls’ champion (individual and team) for each of four divisions (1A, 2A, 3A and 4A).
There will be a total of 8 races on Saturday starting at 7:50 a.m.  After starting with district competition, the top runners and teams moved on to regionals. Regionals narrowed the field again and the top runners and teams advanced to Saturday’s meet. 
The ARP continues to be a tremendous example of what can be done when groups work together. FSU coach Bob Braman refused to let go of the dream that a forested area around the Leon County Solid Waste Management Facility could become a world-class cross country facility.
The results are an NCAA regional competition, NCAA Cross Country championships and USATF Masters Championships as a start. In addition to all of that, the ARP remains the top place for high school competitions, including hosting the state high school championship event for many years. In 2026, the ARP will host the 2026 World Cross Country Championships. 
While there are a lot of very good local runners, Patrick Koon, who is a junior at Leon High School where he is coached by Andrew Wills, is at or near the best. Patrick, who will be going after his second state title in cross country (he also has a 3200 state title on the track), ran 14:50.0 at the Seminole Invite on Sept. 17, the fastest time anyone in high school has ever run the course at the ARP. Patrick’s fastest 5K was run in Huntsville, Alabama, where he ran 14:43.09.
There will be a good showing from the local schools participating in the state championship competition. Leon County has had some good cross country performers. One reason for that has been getting kids involved at an early age. Middle school for sure.
Last weekend (Oct. 29, 2022), an army of local runners (mostly middle school) headed to Lakeland, Florida, for the FLYRA Florida Cross Country Championships.
The event allows middle schools and elementary schools to compete for “state championships.“ Sometimes, it is a little tough to figure out what is going on. The meet divides competitors into the following divisions: (1) public schools, private schools, club teams, charter schools, and elementary school grades 3-5.)
It was very impressive how strong the competition in Lakeland was and how many athletes are participating in the meet (estimated 2500).
The top Tallahassee performer was Jack Koon who finished fourth in the public school division, running 3K in 10:22.40. Jack ran in the public school division for Fairview Middle school. Right behind Jack was Jonathan Kiros who finished fifth in the club division with a time of 10:26.30, a personal best. Jonathan ran for the Red Hills Running Club (“Red Hills”).
The boys Red Hills team finished second in the club category. Jonathan was followed by teammates Salvatore Giove, 10:37.90 , Gavin Poucher, 10:46.40, Trent Parsons, 11:01.20, Cooper Rideout, 10:46.40 and Cy Stanley, 14:27.
A very fast and talented group of girls ran for Red Hills also. Charlotte Sikes led the way finishing in 18th place in the club division in a time of 11:55.20. Charlotte won at least five of her fall cross country races this year even though she’s in sixth grade.
Haley Heitmeyer came through in a time of 12:08.60. Chloe Molen ran 12:11.50. Emma Claire Tannenbaum ran a personal best 12:17.00. Savannah Stanley was next in 12:42. Andi Vilardo finished up the scoring by finishing in 12:49. The team finished fourth place among the club teams. 
Fairview Middle School brought a team from Tallahassee to compete in the public school division. Jack Koon led the team (see comments above about Jack) crossing the finish line in a time of 10:22. 40. Emari Thomas finished in 10:57.80, Ethan Nicholson finished in 11:36.10, Joshua Abigail finished in 12:08. 90 and Braxton Cabrera finished in 12:40.70. The team finished 8.
Maclay School girls competed in the private school category and were led by Lily Bell in a time of 12:10.40. Also competing  were Mallory Van Leuven 13:01.80, Ellie Mazziotta 13:08.10, Mary Price 13:08.30, Marguerite Miller 13:15.90 and Allie Boone Jacobs 14:23.50 67. They finished 3rd in their division. 
Maclay’s boys competed in the private school category and finished in the 5th spot. They were led by David Barton who finished the 3K race in 10:16.70. Logan Phipps was next finishing in 10:27.40, After Logan, Wesley Seise, 11:23.40, Meiko Usina, 12:24.30, Ben Lawson, 12:34.30, Henry Proctor, 12:38.30 and Ford Hogge, 12:39.20, wrapped it  up.
Elementary school runners also participated (unattached) in slightly shorter distances. Those participants include: Rocco Moore (1K) 5:16.90, Grady Poucher (1K) 4:38.30, Isaiah Renn (2K) 8:10.01, Landon Heitmeyer (2K) 8:14.70, Chase Simms (2K) 8:20.60, Ben Vilardo (2K) 11:29.20, Shane Moore (2K) 9:16.00 and Declan Stanley 10:44.40 (2K)
No doubt the future of youth running in Tallahassee shines brightly.
David Yon is addicted to running. In his spare time, he is an attorney with the Radey Law Firm.
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