Florida Orienteering
Oscar Scherer State Park
January 24th 2015


I hope sometime in the future when they go to ask trivia questions about Suncoast Orienteering and the question comes up ‘What was the fewest number of entries ever at a Suncoast event?’ the answer will be January 24th, 2015 at Oscar Scherer State Park. There were two entries on Blue, three on Green, none on Orange and two on Yellow.

Thankfully there were close to 100 JROTC cadets in the competition to enliven the day.

Why such a low turnout? Perhaps it was because of the minimal promotion of the event. Perhaps it was the 2 inches of overnight rains that many knowing Floridians were aware would turn the flat lands of the park in to a mile-wide marsh. Well perhaps not a marsh but it was pretty wet, calf deep along some of the trails and a normally dry prairie marsh was totally water-logged. One of the controls that had been placed the day before on the edge of a dry depression could only be reached by wading in to knee-deep water.

I was aghast to learn from the JROTC cadets of their passage through long stretches of water but they all seemed to take it in stride. I guess true Floridians are more used to it than I am. If they don’t like it they will stay away; if they encounter it, it won’t faze them.

So what were the highlights of the event? James Nici completed the 12 km ‘Super Blue’ Course in 2:38:46, Blaik Matthews and his team called Scrub Jays took a leisurely 3 ½ hours but that apparently included a considerable time stopped to watch the performance put on by an actual Florida Scrub Jay, a bird for which the park is famous.

Chris Donato and his two young sons successfully completed the Green course in 1:22:31, just ahead of Tracy Acuff’s 1:29. Lars Gawell, a Swedish Montrealler snowbirding in Englewood completed the course in 2:19 saying that he had some difficulty relating the map to the vegetation. Yes it looks nothing like a Swedish or Montreal map but like Caesar buds the terrain grows on you.

Boy Scout Troop 191 from Lakewood Ranch FL came out in numbers, divided in to two teams and completed the Yellow course in just less than two hours.

Wow! I’ve managed an event report mentioning every one of the participating teams or individuals.

I did try one innovation at the event that I think I will be repeating. I drafted up a practice map using a small snippet of the competition map and placing several controls on the map so that orienteers could warm up on a map and newcomers could practice their techniques before heading out on their course. The idea seemed well received.

As to the cadet competition the host school, Charlotte, took top overall honors followed by Lemon Bay and Krop. Dylan Sands of Charlotte and Channell Walters of George Jenkins topped the Varsity course for males and females respectively.


Name Time
Troop 191 #1 1:56:52
Troop 191 #2 NTR


Name Time
Chris Donato 1:22:31
Tracy Acuff 1:29:00
Lars Gawell 2:19:00


Name Time
James Nici 2:38:46
Scrub Jays 3:33:00


DNF   Did Not Finish
DQ Disqualified (Missed Controls)
OT Over 3 Hour Time Limit

Created 26-January-2015