Cruz, St. Thomas, Diaz, Columbus All Bring Home 4A Region 4 Gold

On-Site Coverage:

About the Meet & the Individual Champions:
- Very similar to last year's 4A Region 4 Championship where there were many of the top individuals and teams from the State all going head-to-head with each other, this year's version of the same meet followed in the exact same suit, except there were less strange occurrences this year, and provided many quality performances all around. For the individual race on both the girls and boys side, we had the defending 4A State Champions setting themselves up once again for success in Tallahassee at next weekend's State Championship. Alexa Cruz of St Thomas ran 32 seconds faster this year than last year, 18:27 versus 18:59, and just barely missed the record on the very difficult course by a mere five seconds! The course record is 18:22 held by Stephanie Schappert of Pope John Paul II. She now holds the second fastest female time ever at Larry & Penny. For Nick Diaz, his performance was also faster than he ran last year, by a solid 15 seconds, and his time of 15:45 was the third fastest performance ever run at Larry & Penny.

Girls Race Recap:
- Going out a handful of seconds slower in the first mile than last year, Alexa Cruz led from beginning to end as she split 5:50 for the first mile while pulling along a chain of runners behind her. That pack included the top two girls from Ferguson, the rest of her St. Thomas teammates, and the top two-three girls from Lourdes and Coral Reef. Immediately following behind that second pack was a large mix of athletes from the three chase schools as St. Thomas easily ran away with the meet. By the halfway mark of the course Ferguson had pulled into slim second place margin with a tight battle for third between Lourdes and Coral Reef, with any of four possible teams aiming for the final two qualifying places. Once the results were tallied we had two individuals under the 19 minute barrier at Larry & Penny, a feat which only eight girls have ever accomplished, and St. Thomas earned a huge victory by placing five girls in the top eight. Ferguson HS had the runner-up individual, Aylwyn Hernandez (18:56.24), and finished as the runner-up team as they beat out Coral Reef, who picked up third place honors as they narrowly edged Lourdes by three points. The final two places ended up being fairly narrow as well and more than 100 points behind the top four teams. Cooper City slightly pulled away into fifth, while three teams were within seven points for the final qualifying position. Coral Gables secured sixth place by a single point.

Girls Individual Award Winners:
Girls Individual Champion:
Alexa Cruz (not pictured below), St. Thomas Aquinas (18:27.74)

Nine of the Top 15 Individual female finishers that advanced to the FHSAA State Finals next weekend in Tallahassee.
(Missing: The girls from St. Thomas Aquinas. They were cooling down at the beginning of the awards presentation.)

Girls Team Award Winners:
Girls Team Champions: St. Thomas Aquinas - 21 points
Girls Team Runner-up: John A. Ferguson HS - 63 points

State Qualifying Girls Teams:
3rd) Coral Reef HS - 76 points
4th) Lourdes Academy - 79 points
5th) Cooper City HS - 180 points
6th) Coral Gables HS - 202 points

The Region Runner-up girls team from John A. Ferguson High School with Coach Ryan Raposo.

The Region Champion girls team from St. Thomas Aquinas HS with Coach Trish Butler. Alexa Cruz is bib #417.


Boys Race Recap:
- On the boys side, the race broke down very similarly to the girls race. It was a strong pack in the front that spread out a little bit throughout the course, but for the most part ran fairly even along the entire course. Nick Diaz towed Carlin Berryhill, Kurt Convey, and Humberto Freire through the first mile and those positions remained stable throughout the entirety of the race as they finished in first through fourth places. After that came a large jumble of athletes from all of the schools who were contending for the team win, particularly St. Thomas Aquinas, Coral Reef, and Christopher Columbus. The following teams, Sunset and Ferguson, did not have enough fire power to try and shoot for the win, but were both solidly in as qualifying teams while the big question was for the sixth and final qualifying spot. When the results came in and the knowledge that the top three schools were separated by only three points, it's easy to see just how competitive next week's State Championship is going to be. The final totals had Columbus two points over St. Thomas, who was one point over Coral Reef. All three of these teams are expected to be top five teams next weekend in Tallahassee, and as of now, it's anyone's championship to win. As expected Sunset and Ferguson secured the fourth and fifth positions, while sixth place went to Cypress Bay who beat out two teams by just over twenty points.

Boys Individual Award Winners:
Boys Individual Champion:
Nick Diaz (top right, green hat), Miami Sunset HS (15:45.62)

Boys State Qualifying Individual:
12)  Jose Penalver, Cooper City (17:02.31)

The Top 15 Individual male finishers that advanced to the FHSAA State Finals next weekend in Tallahassee.

Boys Team Award Winners:
Boys Team Champions: Christopher Columbus HS - 51 points
Boys Team Runner-up: St. Thomas Aquinas - 53 points

State Qualifying Boys Teams:
3rd) Coral Reef HS - 54 points
4th) Miami Sunset HS - 94 points
5th) John A. Ferguson HS - 149 points
6th) Cypress Bay - 178 points

The Region Champion boys from Columbus HS with Asst Coach Dominick Cabrera (left) and Head Coach Eric Pino (right).


Elite Meet Performances: