The best middle school cross country runners meet in the Collier County Cross Country Championships, beginning at 8:30 a.m. at Manatee Middle School on Saturday.
The North and South championships last Saturday saw the Manatee boys and Gulfview girls win in the South, while Golden Gate boys and North Naples girls won the North championships.
The Macro Charter Middle School girls had its top five runners in the top 15, but finished second when the Gulfview girls placed their top five finishers in the first nine.
Charter's Rosie Poling won the event and will be the favorite on Saturday. Josh Wagner ran to second place.
"The girl's did well, but Gulfview is very strong," coach Roger Raymond said. "We must break up their top runners to win. Rosie Poling looked strong, but is a marked runner and must be at her best to hold off some strong runners."
Charter School's Josh Wagner was second in the boys race. The Eagles were missing three runners, playing in a soccer tournament.
"Josh ran a good race, but fell too far behind to catch up," Raymond said. "He will have a great opportunity to win the boys championship, but the competition is strong. Manatee has a great team and looks nearly unstoppable, but that is why we run the races."
Poling finished 59 seconds ahead of her closest competitor in the South championship. She is the defending champion and course record holder at 11:24 in the 1.8 mile race."
The overall girls champion from the North is Corkscrew Middle's Monet Burkett. The overall boys champion is Will McCann of North Naples. Manatee's Jose Rodriguez of Manatee, in only his second race, won the South, beating Wagner by three seconds.
Awards will be given out at 10 a.m. in the Manatee school cafeteria. The top 15 places will receive medals, while the 16th to 30th places will receive ribbons, Team trophies will be given to the team champions.