The largest meet of the weekend in Florida was found at the Spanish Invitational with over 1,800 high school finishers over two days of competition at South County Regional Park in Boca Raton.
On Friday, the 1A & 2A schools competed head to head while also separated in results. A brief lightning delay pushed back to meet start time 30 minutes but also the storms cooled down temperatures for some more ideal racing weather.
In the 1A/2A varsity boys race, Port Charlotte senior Tyler Wadsworth got out strong on the field as the lone runner in the race with sub 16 minute 5K credentials as an All-State finisher in 3A last fall. Now with Port Charlotte in 2A, Wadsworth got a chance to see his new competition found in South Florida including William Romac of St. Andrew's who has taken over as the top runner of his team with the graduation of state champion miler Matthew Mulé.
Romac was able to attach himself to Wadsworth on the second lake loop of the course and looked to be trying to make a breakaway from Wadsworth as they rolled down off the hill towards to the finishing stretch. Romac was coming off a runner-up finish at the King's Academy Invitational in 16:43 last weekend to start his senior season.
Wadsworth though had other plans and was able to rally back to kick past Romac for the win in a season-best time of 16:08 to bounce back from a sluggish start of 17:06 for sixth place while racing under the weather at the DDD Sommer Invite hosted by Estero two weekends ago.
Romac finished three seconds back in second place at 16:08, which is a new 5K personal best for him by 26 seconds bettering his 16:39 performance at the FSU Pre-State Invite last year.
If team scores were combined, 1A school Palmer Trinity would come out on top in both classifications with their 17:35 team average and having four runners among the top 15 places as George Stark (3rd, 16:30) was the top individual finisher from 1A, while teammates Alejandro Storper (11th, 17:25), Eduardo Del Rosal (12th, 17:26), and Henry Stark (15th, 17:28) joined him among the top 15. The Palmer Trinity School boys easily dominated the scoring for 1A teams only with 27 points when filtered down.
The 2A teams only competition was much closer with Mater Lakes Academy at 89 points able to stay just ahead of Pine Crest in second with 98 points and Miami Sunset in third with 106 points. Jeshua Osorio led Mater Lakes Academy boys finishing fourth overall with a time of 16:31.
The 1A/2A varsity girls race saw Andrea Montaner from Carrollton School of Sacred Heart jump out fast in the first mile on the field, which was a shock initially to pre-race favorites Emma Hencock of St. Brendan and Brooke Hooper of Pine Crest trying to play catch up.
Eventually, Montaner was caught by Hencock and Hooper on the second lake loop leaving it down to a race between the two currently flrunners.com top 25 ranked individuals to battle it out over the final quarter mile of the race to the finish line. The two South Florida runners had faced off earlier in the season at the Park Vista Invitational with the win going to Hencock.
Hooper reversed the order this time around making the final move as they seemed to exchange first place several times on the final stretch as the sophomore from Pine Crest snatched the victory away with a new 5K personal best time of 19:03, while Hencock trailed in just behind in second place at 19:06. The pair put on a spirited battle for the fans watching at South County Regional Park. Championship season races should be just as close between Hooper and Hencock.
Early race leader Montaner certainly appears to be a developing breakout star finished third overall with a personal best time of 19:25 and was the top 1A finisher in the race behind 2A runners Hooper and Hencock. Only a sophomore, Montaner is certainly in a great position to develop into that next tier of elite runners in the state.
In a competitively close team competition, the St. Brendan girls (67 pts) led by Hencock just edged out Gulliver Prep (68 pts) by a mere point to win the 2A teams only competition. St. Brendan had the advantage in runner positions #1-4, while Gulliver Prep still almost defeated them in the gap that existed to the fifth runner for St. Brendan for Gulliver Prep able to pack it in there.