EscaRosa cross-country title decided by 1 point

Posted on October 25, 2020 by Stu Camp

In full sprint, Gulf Breeze’s Finn Youberg checks for a late burst from competitors before the finish. (Photo by Stuart Camp)

One point. One place. That was the difference for Gulf Breeze missing the overall title at the EscaRosa County cross-country championships last week.

They were bested by Pensacola Christian Academy based on how the five top team runners scored – 47 to 48.

Finn Youberg was the Dolphin’s top harrier, outsprinting PCA’s Jonathan Tutton for second place in 17 minutes 2 seconds. Placing fourth overall was Cade Seeber, who crossed the finish seven seconds later. Also scoring for Gulf Breeze were Jacob Linter (10th, 18:02), Kai Payne (15th, 18:23), and Steven Decesare (17th, 18:26).

Pace’s Francisco Ramirez clocked a 16:51 around the 3.1-mile course in west Pensacola to finish first and validate his individual EscaRosa championship, which was run in Milton Oct. 15.

“That’s how it’s been a lot this season. Been losing to the same kid,” Youberg said. “I need to talk over strategy with the coach, get a little smarter running. I have the ability to beat him, I just get smarter about it.”

Ramirez blasted out to a 40-meter lead by the mid-mark, and he didn’t seem to relinquish a step on the second loop through the woods. Youberg, Tutton, and Seeber were shoulder-to-shoulder entering the final straightaway.

“Mile two, my legs started feeling it,” Youberg said, who competed in four events the day before at the district swimming meet. “It was good competition, but my legs weren’t there to race with Francisco. After about a mile, I decided to race with him (Tutton) rather than try to beat him. There’s a marker that says three miles, right there I knew I had to go.”

The senior knew before the official results were posted that scores were going to be close. He accurately predicted it would be a point or two deciding the boy’s team title.

PCA’s RaeAnn Tutton posted a 20:57 for top honors in the girls’ race; however, Gulf Breeze took the girls’ team title. Her sister Jaimee Tutton placed second four second back, and the Dolphins’ sophomore Kristina Hankison claimed third place in 21:21.

“Being behind those two (Tutton) girls was really hard, because they were really fighting to go fast,” Hankison said. “In the last half-mile, they definitely left me. I was like, ‘I just can’t take it anymore.’ I just felt defeated.”

The team title was earned through the finishes of Mira Helms (5th), Elisa Williamson (6th), Savannah Jacobi (8th) and Macy Cronin (12th). PCA was second. Pace’s team finished third, and Navarre’s girls were fourth – out of a combined field of 12 schools.

Navarre’s Lily Campbell crossed the line in 21:26 – a season best – for fourth place overall.

“They had a bit more juice in their tank, I guess, to get up the hills better than me,” the sophomore Raider said. “I knew with the conditions it was going to be hard. The course was tough. The first one (lap), I didn’t notice the inclines. The second time, it just hit hard.”

As a team, Navarre’s girls finished third at EscaRosa with Kada Biehl (35th), Saylor Marlow (39th), Athena Hicks (46th), and Kadi Casey (65th) scoring.

While other schools that raced lined up at district meets this week, the Raiders ended their season at the EscaRosa race, according to coach Katie Fein.

“Today was a big race, but … they set goals for themselves, and I just wanted them to meet them,” girls’ coach Katie Fein said. “I’m proud of them either way. They’ve all met those goals, whether or not today was that race.”

Because of COVID concerns, organizers split the field and ran the championships over two days. The top four teams – both boys and girls – ran Oct. 22.

The Raiders’ boys’ team finished fourth, which was led by senior Logan Escobedo. He ran an all-time personal best of 18:41 while crossing the finish 21st.

“My old one was 18:56, and I set that my sophomore year,” Escobedo said. “It hurt. I feel happy that I finally broke my PR.”

In quick succession, Jackson Garrison flew across in 18:50 just ahead of Luke Morris, 18:55. Those three finished in reverse order Oct. 15 at the individual championship.