A riveting Class 2A cross-country state title chase between American Heritage eighth-grade sensation Daesha Rogers and Pine Crest star freshman Julia Montgomery is coming down to who plays the mental chess game best.
Rogers, 13, the 2011 state runner-up, made all the right strategic moves for the second consecutive week to beat Montgomery for the Region 4-2A title on Thursday at Mills Pond Park.
Rogers now faces the daunting challenge of trying to go 3-0 against her biggest challenger to a state title at the FHSAA State Finals at Tallahassee’s Apalachee Regional Park on Nov. 17.
“Last week at Districts, I didn’t go out as fast and we ran with each other the entire race,’’ Rogers said. “This week I ran out and it’s probably why Julia decided to stay close behind me. I sprinted a little more than I did at Districts. Julia is good competition. It probably will come down to both of us again at states.”
Unlike their District 14-2A showdown when Montgomery and Rogers went shoulder to shoulder, Montgomery elected to drift off Rogers before mounting a late push that Rogers answered to win in 18:58 at Mills Pond Park.
It’s back to the drawing board for Montgomery, who clocked 19:00 to finish two seconds behind Rogers for the second consecutive week.
“I ran the race a little bit differently than Districts,’’ Montgomery said. “I kind of let Daesha control it and see where it would go. My goal was to catch her. After the second mile I felt her dropping back. I was going to try and make a move on her but she was stronger in this race. Definitely.”
Rogers’ teammate Rachelle Alexander (19:43) finished third while a fourth-place finish by Pine Crest’s Ella Wurth (19:53) helped the Panthers, ranked a school-best No. 3 in 2A, win it’s first regional girls’ title.
The top six teams and top 15 finishers qualify for the state Finals.
In stark contrast to the close girls’ finish, North Broward Prep’s Jack Klumpp clocked 16:47 to win his first regional boys’ title going away.
Klumpp said he drew added motivation from a perceived snub by flrunners.com, which listed St. Andrews’ Nic Jacobsen and Ransom Everglades’s Jan Bergengruen and Gaby Correa as the runners to beat.
“In the flrunners preview it led with Nic and then I was on the second line,” Klumpp said. “Incentive is always the first line. I read it Wednesday night and again Thursday morning. With about three quarters of a mile to go I threw in a pretty big surge, probably at 5 minutes flat or 5:10. I have never closed so hard before over a last mile."
• Region 4-2A championships. Girls’ results: 1. Daesha Rogers (AH) 18:58, 2. Montgomery (PC) 19:00, 3. Alexander (AH) 19:43, 4. Wurth (PC) 19:53, 5. Archer (RE) 20:05, 6. Miguez (Carr) 20:17, 7. Dominguez (Sun) 20:33, 8. Jovanovic (PC) 20:35, 9. Ortega (AH) 20:39, 10. S. Fernandez (SB) 20:42, 11. Pinnell (NBP) 20:43, 12. Scott (RE) 20:45, 13. DiCintio (PB) 20:51, 14. Gornisiewicz (PC) 20:52, 15. K. Smith (RE) 20:53. Top six – girls’ team scores: 1. Pine Crest 42, 2. American Heritage 61, 3. Carrollton 90, 4. Ransom Everglades 103, 5. Doral 175, 6. Lincoln Park 196. Boys’ individual results: 1. Jack Klumpp (NBP) 16:47, 2. Jacobsen (SA) 16:55, 3. Correa (RE) 16:56, 4. Geiman (Sun) 16:57, 5. Bergengruen (RE) 17:01, 6. Luttier (CN) 17:16, 7. Nelson (US) 17:18, 8. Sweetapple (SA) 17:19, 9. Hollander (CSC) 17:23, 10. Decker (PC) 17:24, 11. Friedman (RE) 17:24, 12. Guzman (KW) 17:25, 13. Wagner (KW) 17:26, 14. Ventura (MP) 17:29. 15. Samuelson (Sun)17:32. Top 6 boys’ team score: 1. Ransom Everglades 59, 2. Pine Crest 95, 3. Key West 107, 4. Suncoast 135, 5. St. Andrews 139, 6. Miami Pace 146.