By Shailey Klein
After stellar performances at the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) Cross Country State Championship, Oak Hall runners are not finished collecting hardware quite yet. Three runners from the boys team and one runner from the girls team are competing at the Foot Locker South Regional Qualifier with hopes of clinching a birth to Foot Locker Nationals in San Diego, Calif. on Dec. 14. The top 10 finishers in each of the seeded races will advance to the national race.
On the boys side, Junior Austin Montini, Sophomore Asher Dobrin, and Freshman Caden Montini are making the trek to McAlpine Park in Charlotte, N.C. for the competition. Austin is running in the Boys Championship Race, Dobrin is racing in the Boys Sophomore Race, and Caden is competing in the Boys Freshman Race. The girls team is represented by Sophomore Lauren Jones, competing in the Girls Championship Race. The four runners have been continuing to train hard in preparation for this upcoming meet.
Austin, coming off of an individual state championship, has experience running at the Foot Locker South Regional and is looking to simply to go out and do his best.“The competition at Foot Locker will definitely be both tough and deep with a lot of guys vying for just ten spots,” he stated. Austin’s strategy for this race is very similar to his strategy at the state championship meet.“My goal is to hit my splits, be up near the lead group by the two mile and then bring it home in the last mile,” he explained. It will be a competitive race with extremely talented runners. “At the end of the day, all I can do is give it my all,” Austin confidentially said.
Dobrin is the only Oak Hall runner competing in the Boys Sophomore Race, and is looking to build off of his performance at the state meet. “I was super close to getting a medal at state so I’d like to try to get one there,” he mentioned. He added that he will miss not having all of his teammates there, but hopes to represent them and the coaches with his race. “My goal is to make first team All-South which is top 12,” he said. “Honestly the best part about it is that we get a shirt if we place highly,” he continued.
Caden is competing in the Boys Freshman Race, hoping to be near the front of the pack in a race with lots of young talent.“I’m really excited to see where I stand against people outside of Florida,” he explained. After running more than 20 seconds under his personal record (PR) at the state meet, Caden hopes to carry that momentum into this upcoming race. “I should be in a better mindset to run faster and hopefully beat Austin’s PR from when he was a freshman,” Caden added.
Jones stated that she is “really excited about the tough competition outside of the state because [it has] girls that are faster than me.” She added that she doesn’t know how she’ll stack up against the competition since she hasn’t raced many of these runners, but is “just hoping for the best.” Jones included that knowing she did well at state helps her mentally going into the race, especially knowing that she can hang with the other girls.
Good luck to these outstanding Eagle runners!
Photos taken by Shailey Klein