Behind nationally ranked triathlete Katie Pinnell and surging junior Jack Klumpp, North Broward Prep ruled the Westminster Academy Cross-Country Invitational on Saturday.
Offering further proof that the North Broward girls’ team will be one to be reckoned with in the not-too-distant future, Pinnell, a seventh-grader, won the 1A/2A girls’ race in 21:15, with her eighth-grade teammate Jenna Shortridge (21:45) following her across the finish line after outsprinting Westminster Academy’s Amanda Baker down the stretch.
Pinnell said finishing fourth in the IronKids Triathlon Nationals this past summer has been the foundation for her breakthrough season.
“Swimming helps with my kick, and the biking also helps my legs,” Pinnell said. “It all helps out total. It really helps our team when Jenna and I can finish 1-2. Jenna is such a hard worker.”
It marked the second consecutive runaway victory for Klumpp, who was expecting some competition after running alone to the flrunners.com Unseeded B race title a week ago.
“I would have been happier with somebody pushing me,” Klumpp said. “After the first half-mile, there was no one and the second mile, people were further. I just had to tell myself in the second mile, ‘Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.’ ”
Klumpp finished in 17:05 and was followed by Westminster Academy’s Brandon Bejarano (17:49), who led the Lions to the team title. Coral Glades’ Anthony Deleva, in his second season of cross-country, delivered his first invitational title by winning the boys’ 3A/4A race in 17:27 despite taking the wrong turn going into the third mile.
Deleva said tasting success in his cross-country debut has fueled the desire for a top-five finish at the Class 4A state finals in November.
• The FSU Invitational at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee, aptly dubbed “The Pre-State” Meet as site of the FHSAA state finals in November, saw the Pine Crest girls’ team and St. Thomas Aquinas boys’ team capture team championship trophies in convincing fashion.
The Panthers backdrafted off star freshman Julia Montgomery’s victory in 18:58 to win the Small School Girls Race by a whopping 89 points over runner-up Maclay. Eighth-grader Katherine Jovanovic stepped up with a ninth-place finish in 21:20, as the Panthers went 1-2-9-13-14 with Montgomery, Ella Wurth (20:09), Jovanovic, Mahlet Yared and Taylor Phillips.
Three Aquinas juniors, Alexander Haugen (16:40), Matthew Butler (16:49) and Antony Cruz (17:06), went 7-13-29 to help the Raiders boys’ team post a winning team average of 17:04.
But the big story was the Aquinas girls’ team, ranked No. 1 in 4A, storming back from a less-than-stellar start in the Girls’ Elite Race to nearly pull an upset of Estero, the state’s top-ranked girls’ team, regardless of class.
Showing the grit that could land them at the top of the Class 4A podium at the state finals for the first time this season, the Raiders whittled a 50-point deficit at the midpoint of the race to 10 points with a mile remaining and came up three points short, 100-103, to Estero. Two-time defending state champion Tampa Plant finished a distant third with 184 points.
Estero’s Kacy Smith won the individual title in 18:06 to offset a 7-15-25-30 finish by the Raiders, led by freshman Alexa Cruz (18:18), Christina Kalis (18:46), Meg Schloss and Marina Braynon-Moore.