Miami Jackson freshman Daesha Rogers, all but dismissed as a state contender with the No.8 ranking in the Class 2A polls, shook up the state title debate with a shocking, runaway cross-country victory over Julia Montgomery, Pine Crest’s defending state champion, at the Region 4-2A championships 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 onto the lead. I don’t think [Thursday] was my day to go with her.”
Said Rogers: “Last year I cried after the state finals. 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.
Daesha Rogers (Jackson) 19:09, 2. Julia Montgomery (PC) 19:31, 3. Tsion Yared (PC) 19:37, 4. Lauren Archer (RE) 19:42, 5. Katherine Jovanovic (PC) 19:53, 6. Castillo (Titusville)19:55, 7. Katherine Smith (RE) 20:28, 8.Alyssa Pujals (GP) 20:46, 9. Flemming (Titusville)20:48, 10. Jernberg (Rockledge)20:49, 11. Mackenzie (Rockledge)20:55, 12. Nicole Taggart (CalvChr) 20:55, 13. Sofia Miguez (Carroll)20:56, 14. Katarina Stevanovich (PC) 20:58, 15. Zeller (SC) 21:05. Girls’ team scores: 1. Pine Crest 43, 2. Ransom Everglades 88, 3. Cardinal Gibbons 98, 4. Carrollton 98, 5. Titusville 134, 6. Key West 148.
BOYS’ CROSS-COUNTRYRegion 4-2A, Titusville 82, Pine Crest 86, Rockledge 109, Ransom Everglades 136, Calvary Christian 178, Key West 183:
Tiffany Lusic 1 goal. Samantha Earle 2 assists. Monica Zabian 1 assist. Nicole Martinez 1 assist. GUL 1-0-0.Miami Springs d. Killian 4-0: MAST d. Mater 5-0: Ransom Everglades d. Edison 10-0: Carrollton d. Pace 9-1: Late Wednesday, Miami Sunset d. Jackson 4-1: Late Wednesday, Carrollton d. Ransom Everglades 3-0: Late Wednesday, Reagan 1, Goleman 1: Late Wednesday, Coral Shores d. Palmer Trinity 5-2:
BOYS’ SOCCERLate Wednesday, Doral d. Miami Country Day 5-1:
Coral Reef vs. South Dade (Southridge), 7:30
Killian vs. Southridge (Harris), 7:30
Norland vs. Carol City (N. Miami), 7:30
Mater Academy vs. American (Pace), 7:30
Monsignor Pace at Gulliver, 3:30
Homestead vs. Northwestern (Traz), 7:30
Belen vs. Ferguson (Tropical), 4
Varela vs. Southwest (Tropical), 8
Miami Beach at Coral Gables, 4
Edison vs. Booker T. Washington (Traz), 3:30
South Miami vs. Miami High (Curtis), 7:30
Sunset at Braddock, 4
Hialeah Gardens at Reagan, 3:30
Hialeah-Miami Lakes vs. Goleman (Milander), 7:30
Jackson at Key West, 7:30
Palmetto at Boyd Anderson, 7
Westminster Christian at Vero Beach St. Edwards, 7
Keys Gate at Coral Springs Christian, 7
Archbishop Carroll at Southwest Florida Christian, 7
Fort Pierce Westwood vs. Doral, 7