Destin Marlins place second at county meet

Tina Harbuck
Showing off their second place trophy from the county cross country meet are members of the Desitn Marlin team. Pictured (from left) are Sara Crews, Kida Bailey, Nia Madrigal, Coach Tina Barron, Emily Kellogg, Abigail Kline, Sophia Kellogg, Katie Gilbert and Coach Demetrius Stevens. [SPECIAL TO THE LOG]

Out of 11 schools participating, both the Destin boys and girls teams placed second in the Okaloosa County Middle School Cross Country Championships held Tuesday in Niceville at Northwest Florida State College.

“The county race was extremely challenging,” said Destin Coach Tina Barron. “The competition was fierce, and there were many individual runners from all over the district who ran a great race.”

Running a great race and finishing first overall were Destin eighth grader Michael O’Leary in the boy’s competition with a mark of 12:38, and Destin sixth grader Sophie Kellogg in the girl’s race with a finish of 13:50.

Destin’s Luke Bilger placed third overall at 12:46, while Nia Madrigal and Emily Kellogg placed in the top 15 for the varsity girls.

Although Destin runners were first to cross the finish line, both teams as a whole finished second behind Ruckel Middle School of Niceville.

In the boy’s competition, Ruckel scored 51 points, while Destin scored 63 points. Finishing third was Liza Jackson at 76, and Pryor at fourth with 126 points. Shoal River took fifth with 167 points.

In the girl’s race, Ruckel took first with 44 points with Destin running a close second with 50 points. Pryor placed third with 93 and Meigs came in fourth with 130 points. Fifth place went to Liza Jackson with 148 points.

“The course was modified due to washout from heavy rains and other environmental factors, and the elevation and natural barriers always push our athletes to perform on another level,” Barron said. “Carson Larocque had a nasty fall in the first half of the race, but managed to fights his way back and finish strong at the end.”

Nevertheless, Larocque finished 21st overall with a mark of 13:31.

“Some of our runners were boxed in at the beginning, but they used the last portion of the course to progress and pass their competitors when space permitted.”

Not only did the Destin varsity finish second, so did the junior varsity teams with L.J. Figueroa, Tobias Thompson, MJ Toth and Caroline Stanford placing in the top 15.

“We are extremely proud of our teams for pulling together these last couple of weeks to qualify for state,” Barron said. “This was one of the most competitive seasons, regionally, and our athletes have done a phenomenal job training and racing this year.”

The Destin Marlins will head to Lakeland for the state competition next weekend.