Bay cross country coach Tim Wanamaker has been around awhile and he’s confident the Tornadoes are doing something no other Bay County team has done, which is host a district meet.
Eight schools will descend on Harders Park Saturday for the District 1-2A event. County schools Arnold and Rutherford will join Bay along with perennial district powerhouse Pensacola Catholic, Pensacola West Florida Tech, Bratt Northview, South Walton and Walton starting with the girls race at 10:30 a.m.
It’s believed to be the first time Bay County has hosted a district meet. All it took was Wanamaker asking to host. The district voted unanimously for the inaugural occasion.
“Usually we go to Pensacola, Tallahassee or Marianna, the last couple years it has been in Pensacola,” Wanamaker said. “Harders is a good course, it’s good to have it local this year.”
Wanamaker said being familiar with the course also will help the Marlins, Rams and Tornadoes run at their best, as they seek to advance as teams and individuals. The top four teams and top 13 runners will advance to next week’s regional meet. If two schools don’t field complete teams then only the top three will move on.
“It sure doesn’t hurt knowing the course,” Wanamaker said. “We practice there probably three times a week, my kids can do this with their eyes closed. It helps you negotiate the course. We’ll see how it goes.”
Bay is paced by all-county runners Morgan Stevens for the boys and Paxton Newell on the girls. Wanamaker said any number of Bay girls runners could challenge as the team’s best runner.
Arnold’s girls are poised to battle for a regional spot as a team after winning the county meet and continuing their dominance. Mikayla Hodges, who pushed below 19 minutes to set a county record last week, leads five all-county runners who have finished closely together much of the season.
Arnold’s boys were second behind Mosley at the county meet. Arnold’s top competitor, Jordan Lance, again will wage a battle with Rutherford’s Andrew Wyllie atop the standings Saturday.
Melissa Garred and Jodi Phillips are among the top runners for Rutherford’s girls.
Mosley heads to Pace
County champion and record-holding runner Aaron Jane leads Mosley into the meet hosted by Pace. The odds of advancing are slimmer in this meet with 14 schools slotted in the district.
Jane, Matthew Darnell, Ryan Harrold, Charles Walker, Grant Kinsaul and Brandon Salazar finished in the Top 15 at the county meet and give the Dolphins a formidable group. Gabrielle Krajniak, Ashtin Noyes, Katie Kenard, Regan Hamrick and Brittany Blume-Bush pace Mosley’s girls.