For parents with any misgivings about handing out an allowance to their teenagers, getting to know Pines Charter junior Andrew Iglesias isn’t going to make it any easier.
As if putting in 60 to 70 training hours a week while maintaining a core schedule of five honors classes and one advanced placement class wasn’t impressive enough, Iglesias’ part-time job at the Amazing Thai and Japanese Restaurant has allowed him to forgo any financial assistance from his parents to purchase his first car.
“I never ask my parents for money,” Iglesias, 16, said. “Even when it comes to paying my insurance and gas. It makes me very independent and teaches me responsibility. It ties to running because running is such an independent sport. You’re pretty much out there alone.”
After spending most of a breakthrough sophomore season ahead of the pack, capped by an eighth-place finish at the Class 3A state finals and unanimous Broward Boys’ Runner of the Year selection, Iglesias enters his junior campaign a state-title threat in the toughest classification.
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Iglesias holds the No. 5 returning time (15:39) in 3A, which boasts a remarkable eight of top 10 runners in Florida, led by Palmetto Ridge’s Carlos Miranda (15:17) and Niceville’s Thomas Howell (15:29).
Also among that group: Belen Jesuit’s formidable trio of Avery Lopez (15:32), Michael Magoulas (15:44) and Fabian Tomas (15:50), who are expected to carry the Wolverines to their seventh state title.
Pines Charter coach Joe Hazera said Iglesias has all the championship traits necessary — including an unrelenting work ethic, mental toughness and high pain threshold — to emerge from that A-list of runners.
“Andy is like all the great ones — they put their life around their running,” Hazera said. “They take care of business. Andy is on a mission whenever he steps out on the course. He attacks it like it just has to be done. He believes that anything is possible; he is tremendously positive.”
With Iglesias setting the pace for Carlos Penaranda, Danny Penaranda, Danny Arango, Juan Arango, John Medina, Kristinn McNair and Timothy Taylor, the Jaguars could have their deepest team under Hazera.
Iglesias will get his first chance this season to see how he stacks up against a loaded Ferguson Falcons Invitational field, which includes Belen Jesuit and eight of the top 10 runners in Florida on Thursday at Larry and Penny Thompson Park in Miami.
Typically, Iglesias will have to drop into the low 15s for any shot at a state title. To avoid a repeat of last season, when he peaked at midseason, setting a personal-best 15:39 at the Little Everglades Pre-State Invitational in October, Iglesias upped his mileage in the offseason and claims he feels stronger.
“I have much higher expectations this season,” Iglesias said.
“If it takes me to a state championship or runner-up or top-five finish, I will be happy with it. The way I look at it, if I don’t give my best in any given race I will regret it. I just try to leave it all out there.”