Eighth-grader Maria Shaw and Thunder are 1A-7 champs

Jim Brockman - Herald Tribune
Maria Shaw '23 breaks PR by 27 seconds and leads team to capture the Class 1A-District title.

Imagine winning a district championship when you are only in the eighth grade.

Maria Shaw doesn’t have to wonder. She knocked that off her things-to-do list on a cool, breezy Wednesday morning at G.T. Bray Park.

The eighth-grader from the Out-of-Door Academy captured the individual crown and also led the Thunder to the girls team title at the Class 1A-District 7 Cross Country Meet.

Shaw crossed the finish line of the 5-kilometer race in a time of 20 minutes, 32.30 seconds, more than 17 seconds ahead of junior Isabelle Saunders of St. Petersburg Shorecrest Prep. Shorecrest’s Lili Scoby took third place, ODA seventh-grader Aubrey Robbins was fourth and Sara Oi of Admiral Farragut rounded out the top five.

“It feels really good to be a district champion,” said Shaw, who shattered her previous personal record by 27 seconds.

“Four of us sort of ran in a clump. We were trading off the lead. I just broke away about halfway through the race.

“I heard people cheering for the girl (Saunders) behind me, so I knew I had to speed it up. I just sprinted my heart out to the finish line.”

The top four teams in the eight-team field will move on to the Class 1A-Region 2 meet on the campus of Santa Fe College in Gainesville on Nov. 2.

The Thunder snatched the team trophy with 28 points. In addition to Shaw and Robbins, Abigail Eakle finished sixth, Abigail Burwood was eighth and Maeve Studdiford took home 12th place.

“My team did an amazing job this year,” Shaw said. “We always stuck together and worked together. I’m really proud of them. We hope to make it to states this year.”

Cardinal Mooney claimed second place in the team standings with 51 points and qualified for the region meet with four freshmen as its top four finishers. Hallie Monserez was seventh, Madision Smithers ninth, Natalie Mercandante 10th and Jenna Santiago took home 14th place for the Cougars.

The top 15 finishers also qualified for the region competition, including eighth-grader Makayla Rassbach, who finished 13th running for the Imagine School of North Port.

The top area finisher in the Class 1A-District 7 boys race was ODA freshman Tristan McWilliam, who grabbed third place in a time of 17:31.98.

Junior Phillip Henderson of Admiral Farragut won in 16:41.36 and his senior teammate David Fiorillo was second.

Farragut won the team title with 38 points and Saint Stephen’s was second at 76. Imagine was third (117), followed by ODA (123) and Cardinal Mooney in fifth place with 153 points. The top five boys teams will move on to Gainesville next week.

Freshman Michael Thomas of Saint Stephen’s was fifth in a time of 17:54.27. Imagine’s Nickolas Renaud qualified as an individual by taking home eighth place overall.


The Out-of-Door Academy

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