After having her season-opening race delayed a week following the FNU Invitational last Thursday being postponed due to storms, American Heritage sophomore Ashley Fitzgerald was anxious to get back into competition mode finally on Friday at the King of the Hill meet hosted at Tropical Park in Miami.
Fitzgerald got a good push and challenge throughout the two-loop course from Emma Hencock of St. Brendan, before ultimately pulling away for the win in a time of 19:19. Hencock finished 13 seconds back in second place at 19:32. The performance for Fitzgerald was her second fastest 5K run behind only her sub-19-minute clocking of 18:52 in last year's FHSAA State Finals.
After a strong freshman year for Fitzgerald which saw her earn All-State honors in 3A for both cross country (9th place) and track (1600-3rd and 3200-4th), one of the top young distance runners down in South Florida is looking to only continue that progression into year two of high school running.
The virtual meet projected a tight battle between these three squads and it turned out to be the reality on race day as well with Gulliver Prep winning the team title while tallying 47 points to put them just 5 points ahead of St. Brendan in second place with 52 points and Our Lady of Lourdes Academy in third place with 66 points.
Both Gulliver Prep and St. Brendan had 4 of their 5 scorers among the top 15 individual places making every pass on the finish line stretch matter to decide the team champion on Friday.