Miami Jackson freshman Daesha Rogers, all but dismissed as a state contender with the No. 8 rank in the Class 2A polls, shook up the state title debate with a shocking runaway victory over Julia Montgomery, Pine Crest’s defending state champion, at the Region 4-2A championships on Thursday.
In what some billed as “the race of the year,” Rogers shot out to a quick 70-meter lead and turned the highly anticipated first head-to-head showdown with Montgomery since last year’s state finals, into a laugher at Mills Pond Park, finishing in 19:09.
“When I first came in, I’m not going to lie, I was real nervous,” said Rogers, whose transfer from American Heritage made headlines last summer. “I have not seen Julia all season. I know she is the state champ. I came out here with the mind-set to go out fast as I usually do and if she catches me to keep going with her and whoever has it at the end, has it at the end.”
Rogers’ aggressive start appeared to catch Montgomery off-guard, and the signature late kick Montgomery used to pass Rogers for the Class 2A state title last November never materialized.
Montgomery finished in 19:31 and led a 2-3-5 finish for the Panthers, ranked No. 2 in the FACA Class 2A poll, with sixth-grade sensation Tsion Yared (19:37) and Katherine Jovanovic (19:53).
“I saw from the corner of my eye Daesha just darting by at the start of the race,” Montgomery said. “In the beginning, she was going so fast. I was stunned. I thought through the first half mile, maybe, I might catch up to her, but she was awesome. She just held on to the lead. I don’t think today was my day to go with her.”
Rogers, exhorted by her father Dave Rogers’ chants of “lets go, pump” throughout the race, said the memory of finishing third to Montgomery at the state finals after beating her for the district and regional titles, was all the motivation she needed.
“Last year, I cried after the state finals,” Rogers said. “It was a surprise to finish third and not running the time I expected. I thought about it [Thursday]. I was hoping it wouldn’t be a repeat of states.”
Rogers’ victory thrusts her back into state contention against Jacksonville Bolles’ Mackenzie Wilson, ranked No. 1, No. 2 Montgomery and No. 3 Yared at the Class 2A state finals at Apalachee Regional Park on Nov. 9.
The top 15 finishers and top six teams qualify for states.
Meanwhile, Calvary Christian’s Joel Lacy continued his hot postseason by becoming the first region champion in school history.
Lacy, who had a runaway victory at districts, pulled away from a lead pack of four runners at the 2.2-mile mark, fought off a brief challenge from Titusville’s Xavier Walton with 400 meters left and finished in 16:22.
“That last 800 meters I was just dying,” Lacy said. “God just gave me an extra energy boost. I said thank you, I will take it. It’s all mental. Thankfully, I am mentally strong. I’ve been telling myself a million times the past three days “you’re going to win.” It got stuck in my mind.”
Ransom Everglades’ Gabriel Correa (16:28) finished second. Pine Crest’s Michael Kennedy finished fifth in 16:49, and North Broward Prep’s Jack Klumpp took sixth in 16:52.Region 4-2A Championships – Girls’ individual results:
BOYS’ CROSS-COUNTRYRegion 4-2A, Titusville 82, Pine Crest 86, Rockledge 109, Ransom Everglades 136, Calvary Christian 178, Key West 183:
GIRLS’ SOCCERSt. Thomas Aquinas d. Wellington 3-0: North Broward d. Calvary Christian 5-0: Archbishop McCarthy d. University School 3-0: Late Tuesday University School 2, Pine Crest 2:
St. Thomas Aquinas vs. Plantation (PAL), 7
American Heritage at Cardinal Gibbons, 7
Deerfield Beach at South Plantation, 7
Blanche Ely at Northeast, 7
Hallandale at Boynton Beach, 7
Cooper City at Miramar, 7
Monarch at Coral Glades, 7
Taravella at Piper, 7
Island Coast vs. University School (Nova), 7
SFC semifinal: Pope John Paul II at Calvary Christian, 7
Flanagan at Western, 7
Palmetto at Boyd Anderson, 7
McArthur at Cypress Bay, 7
Dillard at Archbishop McCarthy, 7
Champagnat Catholic at Highlands Christian, 7
Coral Springs at Douglas, 7
South Broward vs. West Broward (Flanagan), 7
Hollywood Hills at Nova, 7
Suncoast at Pines Charter, 7
North Broward Prep at Glades Central, 7
Glades Day at Chaminade, 4
Keys Gate at Coral Springs Christian, 7
Lawrence Academy at Somerset, 3