Shake ‘n Bake, the Road to States


Haider Malik

 On Nov. 12, the Newsome boys cross country team placed tenth at the 4A FHSAA Cross Country State Finals hosted at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee. The seven athletes, led by Coach Brian Sears, that ran in Tallahassee were Seniors Wade LaRue, Kristopher Glazewski, Scott Bucklin, Jason Swartzlander and Keegan Dandrow. Also, part of the pack was Freshman Jake Foster and Sophomore Billy Berg.

   On Oct. 30 the boys did their thing, becoming district champions for the eleventh time in a row, even though they were seated second going into the race. “After the race, I was relieved because we were trying to keep the district win streak alive,” said Dandrow.

   Dandrow himself was praised by many for the race, as he got a new personal record of 17:11 in the 5k. “Keegan had an amazing race and saved us so many points as our fifth man, I was really proud of him,” said Swartzlander. Other teammates shared their excitement for Dandrow’s breakthrough race which solidified Newsome’s eleventh district title.

   Moving on to the regional finals, the boys kept training and building off of the win at Northport. “This race gave everyone confidence because we had three runners close to getting under 17 minutes in the 5k and we knew we could go to states easily if we did it again,” said Foster.

   At regionals, the boys would be facing against the previous regional champions Plant High and they were hungry to end Plant’s winning streak. “Everyone seemed hungry to race Plant at regionals,” said Swartzlander. Plant had an impressive lineup of athletes to race at Holloway Park on Nov. 4, but Newsome was determined to win.

   Newsome would pull through, becoming the FHSAA 4A Region 2 champions, scoring 73 points and beating Plant by 32 points. “We as a team will always fight for the win,” Sears said.

   This was the first time the boys cross country team has won regionals since 2017. This victory involved strategy throughout the race to tackle each mile successfully and pass opponents. “There were a few Plant boys ahead of me in the race, so I stuck close with them, and in the last stretch I picked up the pace and eventually out sprinted them,” said Glazewski describing his race strategy at Holloway.

   After the regional championship race, it was time to prepare for the last race of the season, the 4A FHSAA Cross Country State Finals. The boys had to prepare mentally for this race as they had been already physically prepared; it was just a matter of execution on race day. “These boys have been training since June and have the capabilities to race well, it’s just a matter of execution, leave it all on the course,” said Sears.

   Swartzlander and LaRue did exactly what Sears instructed, they left everything on the course during the state finals. They both ran exceptionally well as Swartzlander got his second-best 5k time of the season that race with a 16:04, placing him 16th, and LaRue got a personal best in the 5k with a 16:12, placing him 18th. “My favorite moment was running the second half of the race with my teammate Wade, we were working together and passed a ton of people in the last mile,” Swartzlander said.

   The team crushed it this season. They are the  FHSAA 4A District 4 champions, FHSAA 4A Region 2 champions and the tenth best 4A team in the state. This was a memorable season for the team and there is no doubt that similar seasons will occur in the future.