Belen Jesuit senior Joshua Ruiz ran the fastest recorded 5K cross country time run in Florida high school history on Saturday in winning the championship race at The Southern Showcase in Huntsville, Alabama with a 14:38 personal best performance.
It was an exciting finish for Ruiz to edge out a pack of challengers late including a collection of top runners from different Southeast region states in Miles Ramer of Ravenwood (TN), Ethan Edgeworth of Cold Springs (AL), Tommy Latham of Marist (GA), and Jake Liebert of Wando (SC) at the line. The top 8 finishers were all under 15 minutes on the John Hunt Running Park 5K course
Ruiz bested the prior Florida high school cross country 5K all-time mark run on the same course by Viera's Michael Toppi in 14:41 at the 2021 RunningLane Championships.
Ruiz might not keep that record long this season or future seasons whether from a runner within his own classification as 3-time 3A state champion Patrick Koon of Leon ran 14:43 to win last year's Southern Showcase and ran 14:11 on the track indoors at New Balance Nationals.
Or neither Ruiz or Koon might hold onto a Florida high school all-time 5K record after this season with Ruiz's teammate in Belen Jesuit freshman Marcelo Mantecon running a remarkable time in Huntsville as well with a seventh place effort of 14:52. Mantecon has already been clocking state records last year as a eighth grader in cross country and track, but might have his sights set on state records regardless of grade in his underclassmen years.
Ruiz has yet to enjoy a state title running in the 3A classification owned by Patrick Koon, but his performances and improvement leap this fall indicates the gap has certainly closed and could be a legitimate challenger to one of Florida's all-time greats in the 5K track and 3200 state record holder in Leon High School senior Koon.
While the individual performances of both Ruiz and Mantecon were certainly impressive, their collective performances with the rest of their Belen Jesuit teammates at the Southern Showcase showed just why many view their squad amongst the top 5 best teams in the country coming into this season.
Belen won the championship boys team title with a point buffer and winning margin of 51 points ahead of a another nationally ranked program in Jesuit of New Orleans, Louisiana. Belen Jesuit posted a team average of 15:12 and their top 5 spread was just over a minute at 1:06 including Ruiz, Mantecon, Joseph Ruiz (16th, 15:20), Justin Ruiz (18th, 15:23), and Evan Torres (42nd, 15:44).
The Ruiz brothers as a trio are venturing into territory of being called the fastest group of brothers in Florida high school cross country history. There have been some great duos of brothers or twins as the Jefferson twins for example come to mind over two decades ago, but tough to recall any trio of siblings as fast as the Ruiz brothers with seniors Josh and Joseph as well as junior Justin.
Belen was not even at full strength either as they were missing their middle distance stud Joseph "Tiago" Socarras, who has run as high up as #3 on the squad with a season best of 15:40 and likely could have pushed for a sub 15:30 or 15:20 time in Huntsville.