With the team’s top runner sidelined with injury, and missing out on the likelihood of a top finish at districts and regionals and a return trip to the state championship, the Franklin County High School cross country team’s young runners stepped out and advanced to regionals.
The pre-district tuneup on Oct. 12 at Sam Atkins Park in Blountstown would be sophomore Josiah Friddle’s last race of the season, as he suffered a knee sprain and had to sit districts out. Friddle had run a 22:02 to finish 41st and was eyeing a strong finish to the season.
The team’s top girl runners, eighth grader Addyson Paul and seventh grader Isabella Polous, led the team at the pre-district tuneup, with Paul finishing 14th, with a time of 25:28.00 and Polous 17th, about a half-minute behind with a 26:05.00.
Rounding out the girls field at the tune-up was seventh grader Baileigh Dasher, with a 35:21.00 to finish 52nd, junior Rebecca Mahon with a run of 38:53.00 to finish 60th and junior Andrea Cruz with a 42:46.00 time to finish 68th.
For the boys, sixth grader Levi Priddy ran a 29:59.50 for 102nd, freshman Seth Thomas with a season-best time of 34:23.00 for 107th and sophomore William Chastine with a 35:38.00 to finish 109th.
At the Florida High School Athletic Association Class 1A District 1 meet a week later, Oct 20 again at Sam Atkins Park, Paul and Polous improved their times and advanced to regionals.
Paul ran a 24:17.10 to finish 29th, with Polous 12 seconds behind with a 24:29.00 to finish 35th.
The team’s four other runners all posted season best times, as Mahon ran a 32:13.50 to finish 85th, six seconds ahead of Dasher’s 32:19.40 that was good for 87th. Cruz ran a 39:12.40, good for 104th, and Priddy ran a 26:49.10 for 116th place.
At the FHSAA 1A Region 1 meet Oct. 28 at New World Golf in Jacksonville, Paul ran a season-best race of 23:36.00, good for 48th place, and Polous was about a minute behind, with a 24:38.80 to finish 63rd.
“We had a great season with a lot of improvements from our younger and newer athletes,” said coach Anna Bull. “We didn’t have any seniors this year, so our full team should be returning. We’re hoping to encourage some new runners to come out next season to keep the team growing.”
To illustrate the growing strength of these younger runners, they did well at the Oct. 11 Tallahassee Middle School Championship at Holy Comforter Episcopal School.
Paul ran a 14:13.00 in the 3,000 meter race to finish 21st, a fraction of a second ahead of Polous, whose 14:13.40 time was good for 23rd place.
Dasher finished 63rd, with an 18:00.90 time, while Priddy had a season-best time of 14:53.30 to finish 60th.