The Daytona State women's cross country team won a tightly contested race on Friday at the 2020 Region 8 Championships. The Falcons edged out four time defending team champion Pasco Hernando State College by just two points. Both teams placed three runners in the top seven. Falcon freshman Harleigh Bilz won the individual title with a time of 20:17 for the 5k distance. Bliz ran a strategic race, trailing Lake Sumter Kyja Williams and Pasco Hernando's Sydney Stoltzfoos most of the race. With 1000 meters to go, the race came down to Williams and Bilz. Bilz made a move in the last 500 meters and finished 50 meters ahead of Williams. "Harleigh really ran a smart race. She has come a long way since last January when she came out to start running with us. She has just done a great job and loves running. Having been out of the sport since she graduated high school six years ago, this is a sweet victory." Coach Judy Wilson commented.
Daytona State's Sara Mott and Caitlyn Norfolk finished fifth and sixth overall, making the All-NJCAA Region/FCSAA All State team. At this point in the race, Daytona State and Pasco Hernando were just 2 points apart. The pivotal moment for Daytona State came when freshman Nathaly Abastida, a St Cloud HS graduate, moved up through the field and finished with a season best performance. Her ninth place finish overall, and just ahead of Pasco's fourth runner helped Daytona State to grab the title. "Nathaly's performance really pushed us past Pasco. We knew weeks ago we were going to need a big race from her and she accepted the challenge." Wilson said. Freshman Angel Khrino, who spent last year's season rehabbing a knee injury, was Daytona State's fifth and final scorer. The Falcon squad had solid performances from Julia Uvalle and Abigail Koshiol as well. "This win was a total team effort. We are very proud of these women. They came to win today." Wilson said.