The Belen Jesuit Wolverines did it again.
For the second consecutive year and the sixth time in nine years, Belen crushed the competition in the Class 3A boys’ cross country state championship on Saturday in Tallahassee. The Wolverines, led by coach Frankie Ruiz, finished with 35 points, a far cry ahead of second-place Chiles (170). Belen has now won 10 state boys cross country championships, which ties it with Largo for the most in state history.
All seven Belen runners finished the 5K race in the top 20 of the 126-runner field, led by a one-two finish from sophomore Javier Vento (15:39.98) and freshman Adam Magoulas (15:41.99). Lucas de la Hoz (16:14.59, 10th), Diego Gomez (16:16.96, 11th), Sebastian Roa (16:24.61, 17th), Giancarlo Benitez (16:29.55, 19th) and Cesar Aguzzi (16:30.12, 20th) rounded out the Wolverines’ performers.
Mater Academy’s Valerie Lastra won the individual title in the Class 3A girls’ race, clocking in at 17:17.58 to lead the 186-runner field. Pine Crest’s Tsion Yared won the individual title in the Class 2A girls’ race in 17:26.63 with teammate Emily Faulhaber close behind in third to lead the Panthers to a second-place finish.
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As for the rest of the local teams competing at state:
▪ Class 4A boys: St. Thomas Aquinas finished in fifth place out of 24 teams, led by a ninth-place finish from Aidan Breslin (16:13.46) and 21st place finish from Colin Breslin (16:34.18). Columbus finished eighth and had a pair of top-30 finishes from Malcolm Brown (16:37.78, 26th) and Kevin Kerjean (16:38.14, 27th). Coral Park came in ninth, Coral Gables 19th, Ferguson 21st and Coral Reef 23rd. Piper’s Sukiel Foucha finished 13th as an individual.
▪ Class 4A girls: Palmetto’s Jordan Shapiro finished third as an individual (18:18.58) while two area teams posted top-10 finishes with Braddock coming in sixth and Lourdes in ninth. St. Thomas Aquinas checked in at 15th out of 24 teams, while Ferguson finished 19th, Stoneman Douglas 20th, Coral Reef 23rd and Coral Park 24th.
▪ Class 3A girls: In addition to Lastra’s individual title, Dillard’s 12th-place finish paced area teams, with Northwestern following in 18th. Dillard’s Christiana Coleman finished in 16th place (19:10.77).
▪ Class 2A boys: Key West posted a fifth-place finish, while Pine Crest came in eighth and Ransom Everglades finished 11th. Four area runners cracked the top 30: Key West’s Robert Pedroza (16:02.03, 10th), Archbishop McCarthy’s Thomas Rodriguez (16:23.51, 17th), Pine Crest’s Gabriel Ortega (16:40.82, 22nd) and Key West’s Owen Allen (16:41.96, 23rd)
▪ Class 2A girls: In addition to Pine Crest’s second-place finish, Calvary Christian finished seventh and St. Brendan 11th. Gulliver Prep’s Natalie Varela (19:06.01) finished 17th as an individual.
▪ Class 1A boys: Palmer Trinity finished in 18th place, while South Florida Heat was 22nd despite a fourth-place finish by Joseph Anderton (16:03.40). Florida Christian’s Julian Rashid finished 18th as an individual (16:53.14).
▪ Class 1A girls: Miami Country Day finished in sixth place with a pair of top-25 finishes from Lauren McGaffic (19:44.14, 13th) and Rachel Hodes (20:10.89, 23rd). Westminster Christian finished in 12th place, while Divine Savior finished 22nd and Palmer Trinity 23rd.