Last year, Flagler Palm Coast’s boys and girls cross country teams finished among the top three at the Spikes and Spurs Classic for the first time. On Saturday, Aug. 26, the Bulldogs repeated the accomplishment, with the boys finishing second and the girls finishing third for the second year in a row.
This year, the top-three finishes were expected. Both teams are better than they were last year, FPC coach Dave Halliday said. And while some of the Bulldogs’ runners were pleased with their efforts at the 12th annual season-opening meet at the Flagler County Fairgrounds, others were hoping to post better times.
“It was a solid opening weekend,” Halliday said. “Some were displeased, but that’s OK. They’ve got big goals, and they know they can do better.”
Ponte Vedra won the boys 5K race with Lake Mary’s Nathan Henning crossing the finish line first in 16 minutes, 31.7 seconds. Ponte Vedra’s Miles Wicks was second in 16:35.0.
FPC had six runners to finish among the top 30, led by junior Braedyn Wormeck, who placed fifth with a time of 16:55.0.
Last year, Wormeck placed sixth in 17:42 on a muddy course. He ran a personal record 16:51.1 to win the Bulldogs’ next race, but he would miss most of the rest of the season after suffering a burst appendix after the third race. He returned for the state meet and had a great track season, placing third in the 2-mile run at district to qualify for regionals. Now he’s hoping to make up for lost time in cross country.
“I’m feeling really good now,” he said. “I trained really hard in the summer.”
Wormeck ran out fast, running third at the first kilometer before dropping down to sixth before finishing fifth, about three seconds behind fourth-place Connor Stromberg, of Lake Mary.
“I wanted to get in good position,” Wormeck said. “I love getting out fast, getting my confidence rolling.”
The Bulldogs’ other top-30 runners were Jack Gilvary (13th, 17:30.4); AJ Dayton (21st, 17:57.7); Evan Williams (25th, 18:06.1); Haydon Herndon (28th, 18:13.3); and Justin Gilliam (29th, 18:13.4).
Seabreeze sophomore Hunter Shuler also likes to get out fast, which is important in this event with 17 teams and 265 runners starting in a relatively confined space. Shuler led at the first kilometer and finished 16th with a time of 17:42.4.
“The first mile was really easy. It got tougher toward the 2-mile mark. There were a lot more turns, and it got a little hilly,” he said. “I was going at a very fast pace. I like to stay with the leaders. My breathing was fine, but my legs got kind of weary. But it was not too bad for a first meet.”
Matanzas sophomore Blaine Vogel finished 23rd in 18:01.7.
FPC GIRLS THIRD, MATANZAS FOURTH
Sophomore Arianna Slaughter led the Bulldogs with a 10th-place finish in the girls 5K race with a time of 20:55.9. Cassidy De Young was 17th (21:34.7), and New York State transfer Madison Lagarde was 27th (22:32.8).
I wanted to get in good position. I love getting out fast, getting my confidence rolling.”
— BRAEDYN WORMECK
Slaughter finished less than two seconds behind Satellite’s Reagan Cancro (eighth, 20:54.1) and Celina Coryell (ninth, 20:54.5).
“I usually kick up at the end, but I didn’t do it,” Slaughter said. “Me and Cassidy started out in front of the pack, then we slowly faded back. We were third last year too (as a team). We were hoping to move up, but I’m proud we placed.”
Matanzas finished one spot behind the Bulldogs in fourth place. Three Matanzas runners finished among the top 25, each earning a medal. Senior Sierra Howard led the Pirates with an 18th-place finish (21:47.0). Freshman Lupita Galleano placed 23rd (22:21.20) in her first high school race, while senior Nina Rodriguez was 24th (22:24.6).
“I knew Lupita was solid, but I didn’t know she’d run this well in her first race,” Matanzas coach Tim Kane said. “We were missing two of our top five runners, so our girls are going to be strong. We don’t have anyone who’s going to win a race, but we have a bunch of girls who are going to run together.”
Howard said the only trouble she had was at the tight start.
“We were getting pushed and elbowed. You have to fight for it,” she said. “You have to get out fast. You can’t hope to catch up to people after the first half mile.”
Satellite won the girls race with five runners finishing among the top 10. Second-place Ponte Vedra took the top two places, with Daisy Ross winning in 19:09.3 and Hilaree Vega placing second in 19:28.5.