A record four county cross country squads qualified for their state meets at Apalachee State Park in Tallahassee last weekend.
The highest-placing team was the Harmony girls, who were eighth in the Class 3A race. Sophomore Alanie Rivera finished eighth individually, and broke the Lady Longhorn school record in the process by running the 5K in 18:37, just ahead of junior teammate Brooke Mullins (ninth, 18:40).
Freshman Bryann Magner (19:41) was 26th, and five of Harmony’s seven runners were freshmen or sophomores, so the Longhorns will return nearly all of its top runners next year and should be in line for another state meet appearance.
The county’s other three teams in Tallahassee ran in the Class 4A boys race: St. Cloud finished 17th in the 32-team field, Tohopekaliga was 21st in its first state meet as a team, and Celebration was 30th.
St. Cloud’s only two seniors had top-12 runs. Zach Cloud, who led after the first mile, crossed the finish line fifth in 15:49, and John-Anthony Hernandez was 11th in 15:58. The Bulldogs’ next five runners were all underclassmen, forming their foundation going forward as well.
Tohopekaliga was led by its pair of top seniors, Jerdary Ayala (26th, 16:16) and Adolfo Castro (93rd, 16:54), who finished 3-4 to the 1-2 of Cloud and Hernandez at the Orange Belt Conference meet in October.
Sophomore Jared Falchook (55th, 16:30) led the Celebration Storm, a team that didn’t take a single senior to the state meet.
SWIMMERS AND DIVERS, IT’S YOUR TURN:
Seven athletes from Celebration, Harmony and St. Cloud – six divers – have qualified for the Class 4A and 3A state swim meets at Sailfish Aquatic Center in Stuart.
Celebration’s Felipe Costa and Juan Martinez compete Friday. Costa qualified in the 100 meter freestyle by finishing third at Saturday’s 4A Region 3 meet in Orlando in 48.29 seconds, and fourth (53.87) in the 100 backstroke, in which he’ll be seeded 14th. Martinez, a diver, earned 312.40 points for eighth in the region, good enough to dive at state.
At the 3A Region 2 diving competition Friday in Lakeland, Harmony sophomore Amelia Wagner (434.05) won the regional title and is seeded fourth at Saturday’s state meet, where diving begins at 9 a.m. Wagner makes her second state title appearance. St. Cloud’s Kaylin White (383.45) also qualified and is seeded eighth.
On the boys side, Harmony’s Kaden Holl (296.85) and Carl Gressett (288.95) and St. Cloud (296.85) also qualified for the 3A diving competition.
Osceola freshman Molly Schmidt narrowly missed the 4A meet in the 50 (24.91) and 100 (53.77) freestyle despite lowering her school and county records.
“She missed states by tenths. She’s like 25th and top 24 go,” OHS Coach Krystle Bayliss said. “But there’s three more years.”
The Gateway girls team, who won the Orange Belt Conference meet, was district runner-up, and while they didn’t get any swimmers through to state they set three new school records at regionals.
“The State meet is super fast this year,” Panthers Coach Vonnie Kochensparger said.