The Matanzas boys and girls cross country teams both qualified for the state championship meet.
They will be joined by Flagler Palm Coast senior Jada Williams.
While Matanzas will be competing in the Class 3A races Friday, Nov. 12, at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee, Williams will be aiming to improve on her 10th-place showing last year, in Class 4A.
“She definitely has a chance to be top five,” said FPC cross country coach Dave Halliday.
Williams is just a couple of seconds off the school record, set 21 years ago by Kelly Walker, Halliday said. That record was adjusted because girls ran 3-kilometer races back then, and now they run 5Ks, like the boys.
Williams is a three-time state qualifier. She finished third at the Region 1-4A meet Nov. 6 at Santa Fe College in Gainesville with a time of 19:28.4.
But she won’t have any teammates to run with in Tallahassee. The FPC girls finished 11th, three spots from qualifying, and the boys finished one spot out in ninth place, just three points behind eighth-place Oviedo. The girls were missing No. 2 runner Cassidy De Young, who had a fever, Halliday said.
Not much went right for the Bulldogs, who were competing in the toughest region in the state in unfavorable conditions.
“It was 48 degrees with a 15-mph wind and a driving rain,” Halliday said. “And you’re wearing a singlet and running shorts, so it’s kind of hard to get warm.”
Senior Sean Gilliam led the FPC boys with a time of 17:11.7 to finish 29th.
Junior Zach Spooner led the Matanzas boys once again with another personal-record of 15:55.4 to finish second at the Region 1-3A meet at Majette Park in Panama City Beach.
Like FPC's Williams, Spooner could be a top-five finisher at state. He had the fourth fastest regional time among all Class 3A runners.
Hunter Smith was the second Pirate to cross the finish with a time of 17:13.6 for 25th place. The Pirates finished sixth as a team to advance to state.
The Matanzas girls finished seventh and are also headed to Tallahassee. Nina Rodriguez led the Pirates with a time of 20:15.2 for 26th place. Mariah Mills was 30th at 20:25.4.