High School Sports

Defending 4A champs show why they’re poised for a repeat

Girls champ: Alexa Cruz of St. Thomas Aquinas won the girls Region 4-4A cross-country title.
Girls champ: Alexa Cruz of St. Thomas Aquinas won the girls Region 4-4A cross-country title. Miami Herald staff

The reigning individual state cross-country champions in Class 4A, Miami Sunset’s Nick Diaz and Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas’ Alexa Cruz, look poised for a repeat run.

Columbus proved it is one of the state’s top contenders.

And St. Thomas’ girls showed why they are the favorite to secure a three-peat in 10 days time.

All of thattalent highlighted Wednesday’s Region 4-4A meet at Larry and Penny Thompson Park in Miami.

St. Thomas Aquinas’ girls crushed the field with a score of 21 led by Cruz’s winning time of 18:27.74 — the second-fastest ever at any high school meet run at that course.

Diaz ran the third-fastest time ever by a boy when he won that race in 15:45.62. Both he and Cruz won their respective Class 4A state championships last season and are favored to repeat those feats Nov. 15 at the state meet in Tallahassee.

Columbus, a longtime powerhouse in the sport, has worked its way back into contention this season and scored one of its biggest victories by squeaking past St. Thomas and Coral Reef. The Explorers finished with 51 points — two ahead of Aquinas and three better than Coral Reef. Humberto Freire led the effort by placing fourth and Daniel Areces placed sixth as Columbus placed four runners in the top 15 overall.

“I’m very proud of what these guys have been able to do,” Columbus coach Eric Pino said. “This isn’t all that we want. We have a certain criteria that we have to fill and we haven’t filled it yet.”

Pino referred to winning Columbus’ first state title in the sport since 2010 and fifth overall. Coral Reef is vying to become the first Miami-Dade public school in 51 years to win a state championship.

Aquinas’ girls are chasing their third consecutive Class 4A crown.

The Raiders placed four runners in the top five individually, interrupted only by runner-up Aylwyn Hernandez of Ferguson, who ran a time of 18:56.24. Megan Schloss (19:20.57), Lily Kloepfer (19:27.99) and Brianna Rischar (19:41.59) rounded out the top five spots.


Boys’ state qualifiers: 1. Columbus 51; 2. St. Thomas Aquinas 53; 3. Coral Reef 54; 4. Sunset 94; 5. Ferguson 149; 6. Cypress Bay 178.

Boys’ top 15: 1. Nicholas Diaz (SUN) 15:45.62; 2. Carlin Berryhill (CR) 15:55.89; 3. Kurt Convey (CR) 16:18.44; 4. Humberto Freire (COL) 16:34.54; 5. Sean Breslin (STA) 16:45.40; 6. Daniel Areces (COL) 16:46.00; 7. Bryce Statham (STA) 16:48.32; 8. Pierce Statham (STA) 16:50.30; 9. Malik Gunter (SUN) 16:56.81; 10. Jorge Areces (COL) 16:57.78; 11. Cameron Berryhill (CR) 16:59.53; 12. Jose Penalver (CC) 17:02.31; 13. Derwin Moultrie (CR) 17:03.65; 14. Carlos Aguerri (COL) 17:10.86; 15. Leonardo Rodriguez (FER) 17:13.49.

Girls’ state qualifiers: 1. St. Thomas Aquinas 21; 2. Ferguson 63; 3. Coral Reef 76; 4. Lourdes 79; 5. Cooper City 180; 6. Coral Gables 202.

Girls’ top 15: 1. Alexa Cruz (STA) 18:27.74; 2. Aylwyn Hernandez (FER) 18:56.24; 3. Megan Schloss (STA) 19:20.57; 4. Lily Kloepfer (STA) 19:27.99; 5. Brianna Rischar (STA) 19:41.59; 6. Lauren Gavulic (FER) 19:49.03; 7. Rachael Osman (CR) 20:05.39; 8. Nicole De Brigard (STA) 20:20.17; 9. Sabrina Quijano (LOU) 20:32.52; 10. Emily Castella (LOU) 20:32.77; 11. Lianna Farnesi (LOU) 20:50.81; 12. Shivani Dalal (CB) 20:53.05; 13. Briana Vergara (CR) 20:56.71; 14. Veronica Slubowski (STA) 21:10.51; 15. Gabrielle Sumkin (CC) 21:12.81.