Destin runners cross first in meet

Tina Harbuck | The Destin Log
Destin's Kambry Smith was the first to cross the finish line in the two-mile cross country meet Wednesday afternoon at Destin Middle School. Smith was the overall winner with a finish time of 13:02. TINA HARBUCK/The Log

The Destin Middle School Marlins were the clear winners Wednesday afternoon with the Destin athletes out in front the entire 2-mile race.

Destin beat out Pryor Middle School and Liza Jackson Preparatory, both of Fort Walton Beach, and Rocky Bayou Christian School of Niceville.

The Destin girls finished on top with 31 points, while the Liza Jackson team came in second with 37 points. Leading the way for Destin and out in front the entire race by at least a 100 yards or more, was Kambry Smith who crossed the finish line at 13:02 mark. Second in for Destin was Sophie Kellogg at 13:59, and Sara Crews was third for the Marlins with 14:24.

“The girls continue to impress us, particularly since they are mostly a new and much younger team this season,” said Destin Coach Tina Barron. “We are very proud of their effort and enthusiasm for the sport and all of its demands. This will be a team to watch as they learn and grow together.”

Placing first for the Liza girls was Joey Shank, 13:58. Top for Pryor was Tara Sloan at 14:19, and Keegan Benningfield led Rocky Bayou with a 16:14 finish.

As for the boy’s competition, the Marlins dominated scoring a 21, followed by Liza Jackson with 36 points.

Destin’s Luke Bilger, who led the race throughout, finished in 12 minutes flat. He was followed by teammates Austin Paugh, second, and Theo Cross, third overall.

Zach Brainerd led Liza’s boys with a time of 12:39, and Pryor and Rocky came in third and fourth overall. Pryor’s top finisher was Ryan Sloan running 13:08, while Nathan Tiller placed first for Rocky Bayou at 13:56.

“Our Marlin boys have consistently pushed one another to increase their speed since the season began,” Barron said. “Despite one of our top runners sitting out for today’s meet due to an injury, the team adjusted accordingly, fought the heat and came together for another win. We are excited to see their progress each week, since they are such a competitive and very talented group of athletes.”

Up next for Destin is a 4 p.m. Sept. 28 meet at Pryor Middle School in Fort Walton Beach. Schools participating include Destin, Shoal River of Crestview, Walton of DeFuniak Springs and Pryor.