Youth Rules the Day at CC Classic

Race Photos

    Southernmost Runners of all ages descended upon the dewy fairways of Key West Golf Club on Labor Day Saturday for the almost-annual Conchs Cross Country Carnival. Run on the soft grass and relentless mounds of the Robert Price Memorial Cross Country Course, known to harriers around Florida as The Gauntlet, the event pits Youthful Hubris (YH) against Sage 'n' Savvy (SS), teams delineated by their 19th birthdays. Rain stayed away, and we had a nice, albeit humid (of course) morning for racing.

    Traditionally, this has been a season opener for the KWHS Conchs XC teams, a chance for them to stretch their legs against a soft opponent on their home course before setting out to conquer the world. This year, Marathon HS joined the fray.


    SS did claim the individual crown on the Male side of the competition, as Doug Weeks, who serves as assistant coach for Terence White's KW squads, took off early and left the field gasping in his wake. His solo run of the challenging two-loop course took just 17:46. Including all high school runners over the 18-year history of the KWGC circuit, only 25 runners have cracked 18:00 here, so well done, Coach Doug!

    The next 10 runners across the line, though, were high schoolers. Key West's Owen Allen held off teammate and fellow sophomore Jason Block in 19:02 in what was basically a controlled workout for the team's top two. Ryan Schult, a transfer-in for his senior year at KWHS, was the third finisher for YH, edging out Marathon's Joel Zaila on the lean, with both clocking 19:25. Joel, you'll recall, was overall runner-up in the KWSR Grand Prix last winter.


    Marathon's Keygan Jeffries, another transfer-in senior -- but in his case a transfer-back-in -- took 6th on another lean, over KW's Peterley Louis, in 19:38. Marathon's renowned pack -- or pod, since they're dolphins -- followed next in rapid fire, with Ayden Child, Matt Pinkley, Jonathan Pitchford and Owen Pitchford crossing the line within :04 of each other. That's a powerful weapon in cross country circles for Coach James Murphy's young and talented group. Other teams won't know what hit them.

    Recent KWHS graduate Jerry Burgess placed 12th, but, being still just 18, represented Youthful Hubris (we gotta change that age line to 18).

    So, KWSR Winter Grand Prix Champion Ed Clarke was SS' number two runner, posting a very respectable 20:39. Another flock of high schoolers came after that. Sage 'n' Savvy was rounded out by new member Robert Schult (Ryan's dad -- welcome to the Keys, guys!), Anthony Farretta (whose 29:49 may be well be a 60+ course record), and Lazaro Ledesma.

    The females were led by KW sophomore Nicole Matysik, who cruised a tempo-run 21:43. For second, Priscilla Weeks outlegged li'l sis Jane Welzien, 22:45 to 22:49. Priscilla, 22, scored for SS, while Jane, another 18-year-old recent HS alum, was YH.

    KW soph Megan Mayer placed 4th to give YH a 1-3-4 advantage. SS' Chelsea Stamy (24:20) and Abigail White (25:45) brought it closer through three (2-5-6), but they still trailed 8-13. The Conchs' Emalee Hilbert and Telissa Llama -- in her first-ever XC race -- took the next two spots and locked up the win for YH.


     Current KWSR Summer GP leader Katie Leigh took 9th for SS, and Marathon's Riley McDonald took 10th for YH, yielding a final score of YH 23, SS 34. Interestingly, if the determinant had been 18th birthday (instead of 19), Jane would have run for SS, and the scoring would have been quite different. YH would have been 1-4-7-8-10 for 30 points, and SS would have had 2-3-5-6-9 for 25 points. Since low score prevails in XC, the Savvies would have won!  So, expect a rule change for the 2017 edition.

    The day was made into a more festive mixer by a couple of extra competitions. The overall field was divided by semi-seeded-semi-random-draw into 8 small squads who were distinguished by colored armbands, each team a mix of Sages and Hubri, males and females, KWHS and MHS. The Black team took the 1st Colorama title, in a narrow 51-53 win over Green.

    The day's final competition was the KWSR Great American Flip-Off, a double elimination, electronic, team coin-flipping tournament. (Feel free to read that again.) We kept the color teams intact and used a coin-flipping app to make it high-tech: tap the screen, call it "in the air" and X-it or O-it. Each flip-out was modeled after soccer shootouts with teams squaring off and alternating flips. The White team, led by the amazing flipping of KW soph Diego Dunning, won all 4 of its flipouts by just one flip, and took down the Black team in the finals, 4-3.

    Full results of the day's events can be found here.  

    Many thanks to Key West Golf Club, as always, for the use of their fine facilities!


Leigh & Allen Lead The Way

Click here for full standings


10/01  Montessori 5K, 8 AM

11/05  Zonta ABC 5K, 8 AM

11/19  Mariners Hospital 5K, 8 AM

       (5K only)

11/26  Hog’s Breath 5K, 8 AM

September 22, 2016 Monroe County XC Championships This Saturday Boys Race Looks Like a Burner

    This Saturday, 9/24 at 7:30 AM, Key West Golf Club once again transforms into The Gauntlet, one of South Florida’s most famous Cross Country venues.  This time, the prep runners have the fairways and mounds of the Robert Price Memorial XC Course to themselves as the teams from Key West High School, Marathon High School and Coral Shores High School will converge to race for the Monroe County Championship.

    [And, yes, volunteers are needed.  Finish line, set-up, breakdown, water duty, things like that.  Email if you know you’ll be there and will help, or just show up and lend a hand.]

    The MCCCC was established in 2002 when Marathon launched their XC program.  It has been an annual event, except for a couple of weather-related cancellations.  [Full MCCCC history.]  

     In the girls competition, the KW Conchs look to be clear favorites.  The Conchs run in a 1-2-3 pattern reminiscent of the famed Swedish teams of the mid-1970’s. Supersoph Nicole Matysik, one of Florida’s elite runners, holds a PR that is a full 4:00 better than anyone else in the field.  Teammates Telia Llama and Megan Mayer pair up in Nicole’s wake, with the 3-pack of Emalee Hilbert, Talissa Llama and Lexy Wilson giving chase.  All five Conchs have broken 25:00 so far this season.

     Marathon has a young group led my eighth-grader Hailie Gonzalez and sixth grader Riley McDonald.  Hailey and Riley ran within 5 seconds of each other at the King Of The Hill Meet in Miami, both in the 28:40 range.

    Longtime Coral Shores coach Mary Jo Fry has passed the torch and retired from coaching.  The Hurricanes are in rebuilding mode and have been keeping a bit of a low profile so far.  

    The Boys race will be a very different show. In fact, it could be one for the ages.  KWHS has claimed this title six times in a row now, dating back to 2008, but Marathon’s young runners have upset on their minds.

    The individual favorite is KW’s sophomore Owen Allen.  The team’s top runner as a freshman, Owen ran 17:03 last year to become Key West’s #3 all-time, and has already hit 17:35 this season.  Classmate Jason Block has made great advances and clocked 17:50 last week.  

    Conch seniors Ryan Schult (18:42) and Peterley Louis (18:47) and Derek Painter (19:10) round out the KW varsity five.

    Marathon is led by senior Joel Zaila, who made a splash with his 17:45 at Spanish River last week.  He should have a great race with KW’s top two.  Senior Keygan Jeffries has missed the last two meets after a strong showing in the CC Classic, but could be a big factor here.

     The most impressive thing you’ll see all day, though, will be the Dolphin Pod.  Junior Matt Pinkley, sophomore Ayden Child, and eighth-grade twins Jonathan and Owen Pitchford have been running within about 30 seconds of one another, and within about 30-60 seconds of Joel.  Their strength is in that pack.  It carried them to a runner-up finish at the Class 1A Region 4 meet last year, and to a fourteenth pace finish at States.

     The inaugural edition of the MCCCC was a true barnburner, with Coral Shores edging Key West 33-35.  This one might be even closer, a classic battle between two potential FHSAA District Champions.

    The conch shell blows at 7:30 for the girls, and the feature event boys’ race will begin at 8:10.  There are still good seats available.


Volunteers Needed!

Contact Don

October 1, 2016

8:00 AM

@ Higgs Beach

Montessori Children's School
One Human Race Colorful 5K Run/Walk


Sunday, October 30, 2016


Big Pine Key
Vineyard 5K Run/Walk

Previous editions:  April 4, 2016  April 20, 2016  August 31, 2016 Owen Allen at St. Thomas U. invitational Emalee Hilbert at St. Thomas U. invitational