Sunset runner Nick Diaz broke a more than decade-long drought for individual state champions by Miami-Dade County public school cross-country runners last season.
It has been more than half a century since the county had a public school win a team title.
Maybe this season, it will have both. A year after winning his first state championship, Diaz returns as one of the state’s top contenders in Class 4A.
And at Coral Reef, the Barracudas believe they have a team capable of becoming the first Dade public school to win a state title since Coral Park in 1963.
The Barracudas have their own talented individual runner who has come close to claiming the state’s ultimate prize in senior Kurt Convey.
The son of former three-time state individual champion Billy Convey, Kurt finished seventh last season at state and is poised to cap what has been a stellar career with that elusive state title.
But with teammates Carlin and Cameron Berryhill back, and still ranked among the state’s best, Coral Reef has one of the strongest teams at the top of its lineup and could push defending state champion Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas for the Class 4A title. The Barracudas finished second at state last season behind Aquinas.
Convey’s biggest challenger could be Diaz, who along with senior Malik Gunter, return to lead Sunset. But the Knights have several young runners who will have to develop quickly if they are to remain among the state’s elite teams.
Coral Reef must develop team depth as well behind Convey and the Berryhills.
Depth has long been a strength of the squad that enters the season still Dade’s deepest and most talented program — Belen Jesuit.
The Wolverines, however, are a little more inexperienced than they’ve been in recent years and will need their young runners to emerge if they are to win their fifth state title in a row and their eighth in the past nine seasons.
Senior Ryan Rodriguez finished in the top five at state last season in Class 3A and is one of the top returning runners in that classification. Freshman Joshua Collins has shown tremendous improvement and could be the team’s next outstanding runner for a number of years. They lead a squad that is bolstered by juniors Jamie Lopez, Nicolas Roca, Jorge Gomez and Bruno Zayas.
Coral Reef isn’t only going to be strong on the boys’ side.
The Barracudas girls are among the county’s best in Class 4A and are led by sophomores Rachel Osman and Veronica Barreiro.
But Lourdes might have the chance to return to the top spot among Dade’s girls’ teams.
Senior Lianna Farnesi, who ran under 19 minutes at state last season and was an All-Dade first-team selection, transferred from Doral Academy. She leads a strong group that also includes sophomore Sabrina Quijano and senior Emily Castella.
Ransom Everglades and Carrollton have squads strong enough to finish among the state’s best in Class 2A. Ransom is led by junior Lauren Archer, and Carrollton returns juniors Marivi Madiedo and Sophia Miguez.
Westminster Christian’s girls should be among the best in Class 1A, returning a strong team led by senior Victoria Hoppe and eighth-grader Hailey Mira.
2013 STATE CHAMPIONS
BOYS’ TEAM OUTLOOKS
GIRLS’ TEAM OUTLOOKS