FHSAA 3A Region Recaps: Belen Looks to Make History at State

After 16 districts narrowed down the competition pool for regional week, the final 16 teams have been decided for the FHSAA 2A Cross Country State Championship competition pool.

With the competition pool decided, here is what went down last week across the state for each region in class 3A ahead of the state meet on Saturday. 

FHSAA 3A Region 1

After a breakout middle school season last year, Leon HS freshman Patrick Koon has proved he's one of the top 3A athletes this season. The young star won the 3A Region 1 title with a time of 16:19 with his sophomore teammate Jake Rogers following close behind with a time of 16:25. 

The Ponte Vedra Sharks took the overall team title over Fort Walton Beach HS. St. Augustine and Leon HS, Francisco Ramirez, Nicholas Samuel, Tyler Herndon, and Fabrizio Gowdy were the remaining teams and individuals to earn a bid for the big dance this Saturday.

The girls race featured a strong duel between Fort Walton Beach senior Kambry Smith and St. Augustine junior Reilly Barber. Smith took the win with a time of 18:44 with Barber following close behind with a time of 18:57. 

Leon senior Lillian Unger led her team to a regional team title with her own third place, 19:14 finish. Leon beat out St. Augustine by 5 points with a 20:33 average compared to St. Augustine's 20:45. Ponte Vedra, New Smyrna Beach, Kambry Smith, Deanna Bottino, Chloe Fernander, and Ani Veltcheva were among the teams and individuals that qualified out of the competitive region. Leon and St. Augustine will push for a top five finish with the chance at a podium run this weekend. 

FHSAA 3A Region 2

The 3A Region 2 meet featured a strong running from the state title favorites on the girls side, Winter Springs. Winter Springs junior Caroline Wells captured the regional title win -- by over a minute ahead of the rest of the field. Her 17:27 is the fastest time to come from any region this year and she will look to break the Apalachee Regional Park course record of 17:17 this coming week. 

Harmony teammates Alanie Rivera and Brooke Mullins broke up the Winter Springs pack going second and fourth with their 18:45 and 19:28 performances to give Harmony the best shot at challenging the Bears head on. Wells with the help of teammates Evie McIver, Jolynn Rodriguez, Grace Mason, and Kennedy Arterburn captured the team win with 29 points over Harmony's strong 69. Ocala Vanguard place third with an impressive 1:19 1-5 split, and Hardee finished fourth to finish out the team qualifiers. Catalina Veldwijk and Anika Donohue were the lone individuals to qualify out of 3A Region 2. 

The boys race featured a strong race for the individual region title between Winter Springs senior Aiden Arnold and Lake Wales senior Mac Updike. Arnold pulled away to capture the win with a time of 16:13 with Updike following close behind with 16:20. Luis Cruzado and Joel Jean also had a close finish for third and fourth place with their 16:36 and 16:37 runs. 

Lake Wales looks very strong heading into state meet week, winning the region with 61 points and a 17:13 team average. Sebring followed for second with 92 points and an impressive 55 1-5 split. Lake Minneola, Winter Springs, Luis Cruzado, Joel Jean, Brandon Rydzewski, and Cooper Krug were the remaining teams and individuals that made it out of this region with their top performances. 

FHSAA 3A Region 3

FHSAA 3A Region 3 featured a Sunlake 1-2 punch on the boys side with Colby Robbins taking the win on the Holloway Park course with his time of 16:13 and his teammate Alex Pena following close behind with a time of 16:15. With Robbins and Pena leading the way, Sunlake was able to secure the team title as well with a grand total of 33 points. 

Kevin Beck-Perez and Adam Dieck led the Tampa Jesuit boys to a second place finish. Rockledge, Palmetto Senior, William Stone, Dylan Bailey, Rayaan Kader, and Lorenzo Martinez rounded out the top final state meet qualifiers on the boys side from region 3. 

The girls race featured a very strong performance from Osceola Seminole as they make a run for a podium finish this season and challenge Winter Springs. Andrea Ballestero and Delaney Hillman packed a 1-2 punch with their 19:39 and 20:27 performances. 

Ballestero and Hillman led the Osceola Seminole squad to a 30 point win over Sunlake's 50 points. Robinson and Mitchell were the remaining two teams that qualified themselves for the 3A state meet. Victoria Joyce, Priya Wilson, and Maranda Hildebrand were the three individuals to earn state qualifying bids for the big dance this weekend. 

FHSAA 3A Region 4

The Belen Jesuit Wolverines won the boys team title with a staggering 19 points. Javier Vento, Aiden Villasuso, and Adam Magoulas swept the first three places with their 15:38, 16:15, and 16:21 performances. Belen will make a run for history this weekend as the team with the most team state titles.

Tyler Wadsworth, Kolton Pickard, and Saindeley Dorsainvil broke up the Belen sweep with their fourth, fifth, and sixth places finishes all sub 16:40. 

Coming off their first ever district title, Dunbar HS qualified for the state meet with a team runner-up performance with a very impressive 47 second 1-5 split. Fort Myers and Palmetto Ridge were the last two remaining boys teams to punch their ticket. Wadsworth, Pickard, Isaiah Barajas, and Andrew McLendon were the four individuals to make it out as a team. 

The girls race featured a dominate win from Fort Myers junior Amy Meng. Meng went 18:56 to capture the individual title, nearly eclipsing a minute over the rest of the field. Aleecia Collins of Charlotte HS and Ashley Fitzgerald of American Heritage finished second and third with their 19:47 and 19:50 performances. 

The Fort Myers ladies won the team title with 51 points over Naples' 69. Estero HS and Palmetto Ridge captured state qualifying bids with their sub 21:55 team averages. Collins, Fitzgerald, Rilee Morrison, and Addison Boyer were the four individuals to cap off the state meet bids for 3A region 4.