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.
Sept. 4: King of the Hill Invitational at Tropical Park
Sept. 18: Youth Fair Invitational at Larry and Penny Thompson Park
Sept. 20: University of Florida Invitational in Gainesville
Sept. 27: Spanish River Invitational in Boca Raton
Oct. 2: Ferguson Invitational at Larry and Penny Thompson Park
Oct. 3-4: FlRunners.com Invitational in Titusville
Oct. 10: Viper Invitational at Larry and Penny Thompson Park
Oct. 10-11: Pre-State Invitational in Tallahassee
Oct. 17: Junior Orange Bowl Invitational at Larry and Penny Thompson Park
Oct. 23: GMAC championship at Larry and Penny Thompson Park
Oct. 27-Nov. 1: Districts
Nov. 6-8: Regionals
Nov. 15: State meet at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee
2013 STATE CHAMPIONS
Boys – Class 4A: St. Thomas Aquinas; 3A: Belen Jesuit; 2A: Winter Park Trinity Prep; 1A: Melbourne Holy Trinity.
Girls – Class 4A: St. Thomas Aquinas; 3A: Estero; 2A: Jacksonville Bolles; 1A: Melbourne Holy Trinity.
BOYS’ TEAM OUTLOOKS
1. CORAL REEF (Coach Mike Becker, 28th year). Last year: State runner-up. Top runners: Kurt Convey, Sr.; Carlin Berryhill, Jr.; Cameron Berryhill, Jr.; Ivan Lansesfeld, Sr.
2. SUNSET (Coach Alex Shaw, 9th year). Last year: Fifth at state. Top runners: Nick Diaz, Sr.; Malik Gunter, Sr.; Gino Gonzalez, Jr.; Andrew Trujillo, Sr.
3. COLUMBUS (Coach Eric Pino, 1st year at COL, 7th overall). Last year: Third at regionals. Top runners: Humberto Freire, Jr.; Petey Hernandez, Sr.; Danny Areces, Jr.; Jorge Areces, Sr.
4. FERGUSON (Coach Ryan Raposo, 9th year, 65-1). Last year: 2-0. Top runners: Abiel Payano, Sr.; Leonardo Rodriguez, Jr.; Adrian Bermudez, Sr.; Adrian Crespi, Jr.
5. CORAL GABLES (Coach Scott Nelson, 9th year). Last year: 11-4. Top runners: Alex Elortegui, Jr.; Coby Sanchez, Sr.; Nico Viglucci, Sr.; Alexander Duran, Sr.
6. CORAL PARK (Coach Michel Fotso, 10th year). Last year: 4-2. Top runners: Manuel Lacayo, Jr.; Luke Bukowiecki, Sr.; Gabriel Torres, Jr.; Fabian Puig, Jr.
7. VARELA (Coach Francisco Lopez, 3rd year at VAR, 26th overall). Last year: 3-1. Top runners: Arthur Carbonell, Sr.; Raul Balarezo, Jr.; Elijah Muniz, Sr.; Adrian Elkind, Sr.
8. KILLIAN (Coach Jenkins, 4th year). Last year: 5-8. Top runners: Kevin Serpa, Jr.; Leandro Ruiz, Jr.; John Woodman, So.; Julian Gonzalez, Jr.
9. BRADDOCK (Coach Carlos Cano, 11th year). Last year: N/A. Top runners: Anthony Perez, So.; Ryan Gonzalez, Jr.; Chris Sotolongo, Jr.; Bryan Martin, Jr.
1. BELEN JESUIT (Coach Frankie Ruiz, 13th year, 96-1). Last year: State champions. Top runners: Ryan Rodriguez, Sr.; Jaime Lopez, Jr.; Joshua Collins, Fr.; Nicolas Roca, Jr.
2. TERRA (Coach Bill Healy, 1st year). Last year: N/A. Top runners: Nick Nweeia, Sr.; Gabriel Caceres, Jr.; David Junco, Jr.; Andro Bailey, Fr.
3. MIAMI SPRINGS (Coach William Drew, 7th year at MS, 19th overall). Last year: 2-10. Top runners: Ian Alvarez, Jr.; Andy Perez, So.; Richard Brito, Jr.
1. RANSOM EVERGLADES. Top runners: Gaby Correa, Sr.
2. MAST ACADEMY (Coach Guillermo Pena, 1st year). Last year: 1st year program. Top runners: Nick Cummings, So.; Robbie Zoeller, Fr.; Jordan Oria, Jr.; Alex Martinez, So.
1. WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN (Coach Jose Garcia, 5th year, 12-5). Last year: 3-1. Top runners: Hunter Ager, Sr.; Shane Riera, So.; Parker Brannon, Jr.; Ian Hernandez, Jr.
2. MIAMI COUNTRY DAY (Coach Chris Hayes, 21st year, 230-140). Last year: 16-2. Top runners: Alex Cohen, So.; Julian Schultz, Sr.; Jacob Strouse, Jr.; Ryan Finvarb, Fr.
3. DOCTORS CHARTER (Coach Brent McLaughlin, 3rd year). Last year: District runner-up. Top runners: Jonathan Gill, So.; Darwin Abreu, So.; Alex Pegg, Jr.; Torrian Wallace, So.
4. DADE CHRISTIAN (Coach Ruben Rodriguez, 3rd year at DC, 17th overall). Last year: Fourth at districts. Top runners: Iverson Williams, Sr.; Mark Anthony Bryan, Fr.; Adrian de la Rosa, 8th; Carlos Abreu, So.
5. ARCHBISHOP CURLEY (Coach John Corcoran, 22nd year, 336-82). Last year: 20-5. Top runners: Sean Smith, Sr.; Daniel Diaz, Sr.; Hedwyn Lamy, Jr.; Eddy Rochez, Sr.
6. PALMER TRINITY (Coach Johann Odermatt, 1st year, 10th overall). Last year: N/A. Top runners: Dunkin Stoner, Fr.; Henry Fernandez, So.; Mathew Sculin, Fr.; Nico Balarezo, So.
7. HEBREW ACADEMY (Coach Bryan Huberty, 3rd year at HA, 4th overall). Last year: N/A. Top runners: Daniel Bister, Sr.; Jacob Mitrani, Sr. ; Ilan Aronovski, Sr.
8. DIVINE SAVIOR (Coach John Althoff, 2nd year). Last year: N/A. Top runners: Guilherme Pereira, Jr.
ARCHBISHOP CARROLL (Coach Zak Mann, 1st year). Last year: N/A. Top runners: Carlos Lopez, So.; Nicklas Gilmour, So.
GIRLS’ TEAM OUTLOOKS
1. CORAL REEF (Coach Maya Scott, 12th year). Last year: 7th at state. Top runners: Rachel Osman, So.; Veronica Barreiro, So.; Carla Rodriguez, Sr.; Ana Ballate, Sr.
2. LOURDES (Coach Rebecca Michalak, 9th year). Last year: 5-1 (Fourth at state). Top runners: Lianna Farnesi, Sr.; Sabrian Quijano, So.; Emily Castella, Sr.; Calyope Ortega, So.
3. FERGUSON (Coach Ryan Raposo, 7th year, 61-3). Last year: 9-0 (Third at state). Top runners: Aylwyn Hernandez, Sr.; Lauren Gavulic, Sr.; Melissa Melchor, Jr.; Sydney Garcia, Jr.
4. SOUTH DADE (Coach Antoinette Major, 13th year). Last year: 8-4. Top runners: Asha Alvarez, Jr.; DiCaria Alvarez, Jr.
5. CORAL PARK (Coach Mark Formosa, 7th year). Last year: 4-3. Top runners: Katherine Alzola, Sr.; Maria Vega, Jr.; Gema Moran, Sr.; Gabriela Alvarez, Jr.
6. CORAL GABLES (Coach Scott Nelson, 9th year). Last year: 10-3. Top runners: Lauren Kerzner, Jr.; Katy Boylan, Jr.; Alexis Clay, So.
7. VARELA (Coach Arcesio Jaramillo, 1st year). Last year: 2-3. Top runners: Neysa Parham, Sr.; Mariana Morante, So.; Valentina Basiliades, SO.; Sonia Akinnifesi, Jr.
8. BRADDOCK (Coach Cynthia Nunez, 2nd year). Last year: N/A. Top runners: Joyce Caba, Sr.; Jeannie Regidor, Jr.; Alessandra Gonzalez, Sr.; Yilen Amador, Sr.
9. KILLIAN (Coach Crystal Jenkins, 4th year). Last year: 3-15. Top runners: Michelle Negron, Jr.
1. TERRA (Coach Bill Healy, 1st year). Last year: N/A. Top runners: Megan Moussa, So.; Alexi Prieto, Jr.; Natalia Martinez, Sr.; Daniella Hernandez, Jr.
2. MIAMI SPRINGS (Coach Ana Drew, 2nd year, 2-10). Last year: 2-10. Top runners: Alyssa Deno, Jr.; Sophia Gomez, So.
1. CARROLLTON (Coach David Alonso, 9th year). Last year: 13-2 (Third at state). Top runners: Sophia Miguez, Jr.; Marivi Madiedo, Jr.; Niki Kolisch, Jr.; Erica Garcia, Sr.
2. RANSOM EVERGLADES (Coach Doc Crabtreee, 30th year at RE, 36th overall). Last year: Fourth at state. Top runners: Lauren Archer, Jr.; Be Ruan, So.; Kat Smith, Jr.; Erica Scott, So.
3. GULLIVER (Coach Melissa Sullivan, 14th year). Last year: N/A. Top runners: Alyssa Pujals, So.; Canlee Snyder, Jr.; Allison Keller, Sr.
4. LA SALLE (Coach Chris Crotty). Last year: N/A. Top runners: Carolyn Gralan, SO.; Daniela Myers, So.; Mariana Gonzalez, Fr.; Amanda Ruiz, Fr.
1. WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN (Coach Jose Garcia, 5th year). Last year: 4-0 (Regional champions). Top runners: Victoria Hoppe, Sr.; Hailey Mira, 8th; Natasha Strump, So.; Andrea Zumpano, Jr.
2. MIAMI COUNTRY DAY (Coach Chris Hayes, 21st year, 256-101-1). Last year: 14-4. Top runners: Isabella Allen, 8th; Alexandra Piussan, Jr.; Lea Ankonina, Fr.; Mary Elizabeth Allen, Fr.
3. ARCHBISHOP CURLEY (Coach John Corcoran, 22nd year, 188-183). Last year: 7-10. Top runners: Rhian Romanik, Sr.; Kaila Merrill, Sr.; Esperanza Cadena, Jr.; Cindy Blandon, Sr.
4. PALMER TRINITY (Coach Johann Odermatt, 1st year). Last year: N/A. Top runners: Janelle Gonzalez, Sr.; Paula Gutierrez, So.; Julia Irvin, 8th; Ana Martinez-Oleta, Jr.
5. MAST ACADEMY (Coach Guillermo Pena, 1st year). Last year: 1st year. Top runners: Hanna Waxman, So.; Monica Rodriguez, Fr.; Liza Ray, Jr.; Gaby Morrison, So.
6. HEBREW ACADEMY (Coach Bryan Huberty, 3rd year at HA, 4th overall). Last year: N/A. Top runners: Serina Motola, Sr.; Alexis Sugar, Sr.; Zoe Hamburger, Sr.
ARCHBISHOP CARROLL (Coach Zak Mann, 1st year). Last year: N/A. Top runners: Samantha Lopez, Sr.; Melanie Onorato, Jr.; Michelle Moye, So.; Megan Sheesley, So.