Belen Jesuit Rises in XC Record Book Past Legendary Largo

Javi Vento Talks 3A State Championship Individual Win

The Belen Jesuit boys won their 12th team state title last week at the FHSAA Cross Country State Championship, with Coach Frankie Ruiz earning his 11th title, eclipsing Legendary Largo Coach Brent Haley and his 10 state titles. 

Led by seniors Javi Vento and Aiden Villasuso, the Belen Jesuit boys dominated class 3A this season with their 30 point, 54 second 1-5 split, and 15:51 team average. 

M 5000m1Javier Vento1215:22.201
M 5000m2Aiden Villasuso1215:41.602
M 5000m7Diego Gomez1215:57.306
M 5000m8Adam Magoulas1115:57.407
M 5000m18Austin San Juan1216:16.6014
M 5000m21Julian Rodriguez1116:19.3017
M 5000m26Christian Fernandez1216:30.1021

Vento led the Belen boys with his own individual state title with a 15:22 performance -- the fastest time of the weekend. Villasuso followed in second place with a 15:41. 

Senior Diego Gomez and Adam Magoulas finished seventh and eighth for the Wolverines with just a tenth of a second separating their 15:57 performances. Austin San Juan, Julian Rodriguez, and Christian Fernandez rounded out the team's top seven with sub 16:30 performances.

This 12th state team title marks a new era in Florida cross country. Strangely enough, this new era will still include blue and gold uniforms.

Brent Haley's 40 years of coaching spanning from the early 1960s to the early 1990s led the Largo team to 10 team state titles, but also a culture that coaches all over the state would aspire to mimic in their own programs; including Belen's Frankie Ruiz. 

Ruiz told Lynn Ramsey with Florida Catholic news that he reached out on Friday to Brent Haley to congratulate him for his success and the standard that he set in the sport.

It should be said that Brent Haley definitely set the standard for Florida cross country. 

While I have not met Coach Haley, there is not a state meet that goes by without that "winning" culture he created being mentioned.

I remember several years back as an athlete in the Florida running community, being sent a Q&A that Gary Cohen did with Coach Haley. In it the question "How many State Championships did you win?" was followed by the response "I didn't win any. That is one of my pet peeves...when a coach says he beat somebody. I was a 2:02 half miler and probably better at football than track. My runners were good -- I know I had a part in it, but my runners were the main part." 

It's this attitude and culture that is continued by Frankie Ruiz, Doug Butler, Tony Ryan, Roy Harrison, and many other championship coaches that still remain coaching in the state of Florida today. 

The Wolverines will lose all but two of their top seven next season, with Adam Magoulas as their top returner for the 2021 season. 

Belen and Coach Frankie Ruiz are now the best Florida boys cross country program and boys coach in the state's history, but it was not without challenge and inspiration from a fellow team, decades prior, that also raced in yellow and blue. 

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