Friday’s annual 5K City Championship – hosted by Maclay, since 1995 – proved to be the perfect test for area runners.
The Marauders’ home course will also host the district meet later this season, giving teams the opportunity to feel out the course and prepare for districts.
North Florida Christian’s Griffith Rutherford, the top-ranked runner in Class 1A, clinched the boys title. He covered the 3.1-mile course in 16 minutes, 45 seconds.
Caroline Willis of Maclay clocked a 21:18, over a minute faster than the next runner, to win the girls title.
Maclay swept the meet, with the girls placing four runners in the top five finishers.
The race served as a good benchmark for the season as well.
“Last year we competed at the state course a couple of times before the (state meet)” Rutherford said. “That was a big help for our team – to run a course before it actually counts.”
Maclay coach Gary Droze said the course will change slightly for the district race.
On Friday, runners bypassed a holding pond in the middle of the course that is designed to slow runners through the mud. But they still had to deal with the stifling heat.
“There was no way around the heat,” Droze said. “With that said most of the kids ran faster than they had the past few weeks, just not blazing fast. The only blazing was the sun.”
Droze was still very encouraged by his team’s effort.
“To finish with a lot of runners running so close together, and the order going back and forth is good for us, he said. “I don’t want kids to mentally seed themselves on the team.”