The Bolles cross country team poses with American Heritage
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Bolles School makes a tradition of winning in every sport.
But perhaps this year's will stand out most in the crowd of state championships - the year the girls cross country team lost.
"We really wanted to win state this year," said senior Micayla Costa. "That's what we've been focused on all year."
On Saturday, the group of runners, from seventh grade through high school, ran in the state cross-country finals in south Florida. They ran a good race, but finished third, just short of their goal.
At least that's what they thought.
It turns out two girls from American Heritage mistakenly switched the timing chips on their sneakers, which is against the rules.
"Well, two of the girls from American Heritage School (Plantation, Fla.) were disqualified," said Bolles senior Rachel Rice. "That bumped them from second to fifth."
And that bumped Bolles from third to second, earning them a state runner-up trophy, medals and a photo-op on the champions podium next to state champ Carrollton School (Miami).
"We got to the podium, but not in the way that we wanted to," said head coach Tony Ryan.
He said he didn't have a chance to talk to the team before they decided to do the right thing.
"We huddled up in a group to talk about it," Costa said. The team decided not to keep the trophy, the medals and the runner-up title.
"We knew in our hearts we couldn't keep it," Rice said.
The girls from Bolles left the podium and gave the trophy to the Heritage team.
Sophomore Lily Arnold was on the 2009 state championship team. She approached one of the girls from the other school.
"I took off my medal and I gave it to her," she said. "And once I put it around her neck, she started to cry."
For a group with several state championships on their resume, they said it was easy for them to act like they've been their before.
Arnold said she'll cherish this as much as the title year in '09. "This was worth so much more than a state championship."
First Coast News