Blair leads Oak Hall girls to another title


Grace Blair, of Oak Hall, runs toward the finish line to win the girls race at the Bobcat Cross Country Classic held at Santa Fe College on Saturday.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, October 13, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, October 14, 2012 at 12:17 a.m.

At Saturday morning's 12th annual Bobcat Cross Country Classic at Santa Fe College, the Oak Hall girls team displayed its depth and its ability to perform without one of its top runners.

The Eagles, FHSAA Class 1A state runners-up the last two years, did not have Brittney Olinger, The Sun's four-time reigning girls cross country runner of the year, in their lineup.

But Oak Hall didn't miss a step and went on to capture its third consecutive Bobcat Classic girls team title.

Eagles seventh-grader Grace Blair became the youngest runner to win at this event as she posted a time of 19:18.20 to place first out of 120 runners in the girls 5K race.

“It was a good win to show under some adversity that we can still perform at a high level,” Oak Hall coach Edwin McTureous said. “I think that is what we did today.

“After coming off of two big travelling weeks I thought this was a good solid run.”

Olinger, the girls winner at this meet the last two years, was given this race off by McTureous, who said she needed a break. The coach also said Olinger would have run if this was a postseason race.

Either way it was a good day for the Eagles, as they raced through SFC's campus. Eighth-graders Lauren Perry finished second (20:06.20) and Talia Carlson placed fourth (20:20), with sophomore Katie Ringdahl finishing 13th (21:29.80). Eighth-grader Jennifer Cott rounded out Oak Hall's top five in 17th place (21:37.30).

“It was a good feeling being out there,” said Blair, who separated herself from Perry at about the two-mile mark. “We are a really close team. Even though we lost a member she (Olinger) was still there to cheer for us.

“I feel like it shows that we are still a strong team together and that every individual on it counts.”

Columbia's freshmen Emma Tucker was third (20:11.80) with Samantha Zeigus placing sixth (20:46.70) as the Tigers were third out of 15 teams. Eastside was second and was led by Lucinda Peng (7th, 21:11.90) and Christine Pu (11th, 21:20). Gainesville's Carter Page (8th, 21:13) and Buchholz's Isabella Whelan (10th, 21:14.70) each placed in the top 10.

After finishing as the runner-up last fall at this event, P.K. Yonge's Garrett Westlake cruised to the title in the 118-runner boys 5K race. The senior clocked a winning time of 16:19.10, while his teammate Joseph Janson was second at 16:39.70.

“I have been running this course since the seventh grade and I had never won it,” Westlake said. “To win it my senior year and seeing improvement, it is nice to finally be on top in a local race.”

Westlake, who started to pull away from Janson right before the one-mile mark, led the Blue Wave to a fourth-place team finish. Buchholz, the host school, finished second behind Longwood Lyman in the 15-team field. John Dougherty posted a personal-record time of 16:43.50 to place third, while teammates Karsten Pease (17:27.50) and Brady Davis (17:28.30) finished eighth and ninth, respectively.

Eastside's Carsten Thue-Bludworth (6th, 17:19.50) and GHS freshman Blake Lowery (7th, 17:22) each placed in the top 10.

“Our kids (the boys team) came ready to race, they did an outstanding job,” said Buchholz coach Ron Norris, who hosted a cross country invitational in this area for the 32nd year. “We have gotten stronger and stronger and I couldn't have scripted it any better.”

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