Race recaps from day 1 of the 24th annual flrunners.com Invitational on Friday, October 6th at Holloway Park in Lakeland, Florida.
Friday High School Boys Race
Drone Race Video: Friday High School Boys
Temperatures and weather conditions cooled down in the latter races but no reprieve for the first race of the meet in the Friday high school boys race with a 4:25 PM start time affecting the time performances of the athletes competing.
Video Interview: Friday HS Boys Race winner Joseph Koraya of Fort Myers
Fort Myers senior Joseph Koraya ran 15:50 last week at FSU Pre-State Invitational and a season best of 15:38 two weeks ago at the North Port Invitational. Racing on Friday separate from the rest of his team on Saturday due to SAT testing scheduled for Saturday morning, Koraya was able to win his second race of the season in a time of 17:04 as the humidity certainly affected his time and others in the race.
The top 5 finishers were all under 18 minutes with Koraya, Andrew Nyland of Foundation Academy (2nd, 17:18), Benjamin Francis of Highlands Christian Academy (3rd, 17:24), Levi Mollica of Winter Springs (4th, 17:45), and Kaleb Mellot of Charlotte (5th, 17:55).
Finish Line Race Video: Friday High School Boys
Nyland had a strong race trying to keep up with Koraya chasing for an eventual runner-up finish, while both Francis and Mollica are only freshmen and showed well finishing as high as they did in the 28 team field and 298 finishers in the race.
Venice won the team title with 71 points placing them well ahead of the next closest squads in runner-up squad Winter Springs with 124 points and FAU High with 135 points. Key for team win was a top 3 amongst the top 12 places in Patrick McDonald (8th, 18:15), Spencer Palmer (10th, 18:24), and Joshua Woody (12th, 18:42).
Friday High School Girls Race
Sabrina Martinez, one of the top young distance runners in South Florida as a sophomore at Riviera Prep in Miami, was able to distance herself from the rest of the field early and pull away to win Friday's high school race at the flrunners.com Invitational in a time of 20:16.
Video Interview: Friday HS Girls Race winner Sabrina Martinez
While well off her season best of 19:19 from Spanish River Invitational last month, Martinez was still impressive in the warm conditions on Friday afternoon winning by a margin of 11 seconds.
The Winter Springs girls would have been competitive in Saturday's Race of Champions but with their homecoming on Saturday opted to give their girls more time to prep for their dance by racing on Friday.
The Winter Springs girls claimed the first place team trophy with 44 points despite a strong challenge by Venice girls not far behind as the runners-up with 56 points. Winter Springs had 3 girls among the top 9 places between senior Jolynn Rodriguez (2nd, 20:27), sophomore Scarlett Mason (3rd, 20:43), and senior Grace Mason (9th, 21:37).
Finish Line Race Video: Friday High School Girls
The Venice girls also had a strong top 3 amongst the top 15 places in Darcy Cernask (4th, 20:55), Mackenzie Maclean (5th, 21:26), and Jamie Sweiderk (14th, 22:02).
Middle School Boys Race
Video Interview: Middle School boys race winner Nicholas Veloso
The Belen Jesuit pipeline of talent is strong for future teams at the high school level thanks to the talent that is continued to be found within their middle school program.
On Friday in the middle school race at the flrunners.com Invitational, which is the same 3K course at Holloway Park that will be used for the FLYRA Middle School State Championships later this month, Belen Jesuit duo in eighth graders of Nicholas Veloso and Jack Michalak went 1-2 in the race.
Veloso broke 10 minutes for the first time for the win in a time of 9:54, while teammate Michalak trailed in the finish line chute 13 seconds in second place at 10:07. Could see both Veloso and Michalak.
The Red Sea Running Club (Tavares Middle School) though was able to defeat the Belen boys 47 to 62 points thanks to a much tigher team spread of 24 seconds for their top 5 runners compared to Belen Jesuit with a gap of 81 seconds for their first five finishers.
Red Sea was led by Maddox Mars in third place with a time of 10:14 and behind him his squad saw a total of 8 runners break 11 minutes for 3K and all finish among the top 25 places with Omar Castillo (6th, 10:22), Nicholas Alvarez (9th, 10:30), Eric Chen (15th, 10:36), Liam Illea (17th, 10:39), Langston Carry (18th, 10:40), Nathan Meloy (19th, 10:46), Emiliano Loranzo (24th, 10:54), and Navid Lozano (25th, 10:54).
Middle School Girls Race
Video Interview: Middle School girls race winner Lainee Mercer of Hillsborough Harriers
Lainee Mercer of Hillsborough remained undefeated as one of Florida's top middle school cross country runners as she just missed besting her 3K PR of 10:39 from last week at the FSU Pre-State Invitational in winning the flrunners.com Invite in a course PR time at Holloway Park in 10:40.
Mercer is the defending club divisions state champion from last year's FLYRA Middle School State Championships and will look to repeat in two weeks when she returns to Holloway.
Running an exception race in second place and even late in the race appearing to close the gap and get in striking distance of Mercer was Bayshore Project 8th grader Katherine Eudaly with a personal best 3K time of 10:50. Eudaly is the younger sister of one of Florida's all-time fastest milers Mary Ellen Eudaly, who currently runs for the University of Arkansas.
Arabella Duffell of Lake Nona Middle School and Peyton Cersai of Indian Trails Middle School both competing unattached raced well on their own without their teams with Duffell in third place at 11:14 and Cersa just behind her in fourth place at 11:18.
Drone Race Video: Middle School Girls
The Rea Sea Running Club girls made it a sweep of the team titles with their boys team, who took first in the race prior. The Red Sea Running Club girls similarly relied on a tightly packed but fast top 5 as only 29 seconds separated their top 5 scorers while averaging 12:03 as a group.
Their top 4 girls came across the finish line in a quick burst amongst the top 15 places including 3 under 12 minutes with Jimena Nava-Garcia (10th, 11:52), Isabella Neal (11th, 11:55), Sophia Maldonado (13th, 11:59), and Laken Hartley (15th, 12:06).
Miami Elite Track Club just held off Gulf Coast Runners Youth Team by one point for runner-up team honors led by Nicole Lewis (7th, 11:33) and Marisa Mantecon (8th, 11:44) with their top 10 individual finishes.
Elementary School Boys Race
Video Interview: Elementary School boys winner Maxwell Claypool of The Elite Runner Fort Myers
Maxwell Claypool, a fifth grader running for The Elite Runner Fort Myers club, had held his own in middle school races as of late including a 17th place at FSU Pre-State Invite and third place finish at the North Port Invitational including a 10:38 3K best.
This Friday at the flrunners.com Invitational, Claypool got the opportunity to race against his elementary school peers at the 2K distance and was dominant pulling away from the field with a 7:08 victory and 28 seconds ahead of the next closest competitor in Boca Warriors fourth grader Banks Stroup in second place at 7:36.
Drone Race Video: Elementary School Boys Race
Claypool was fifth in last year's FLYRA Middle School State Championships elementary school race and certainly will be one of the top contenders to win later this month after his flrunners.com Invite performance.
Claypool also led ERYRC to the team title with a team score of 30 points to stay just ahead of the Hillsborough Harriers in second place with 44 points. Teammates Finn Dempsey (3rd, 7:40) and Declan Carr (5th, 7:49) joined Claypool with top 5 finishes.
Elementary School Girls Race
Video Interview: Elementary School girls race winner Carolina Sanz De Acedo
Miami Elite Track Club fifth grader Carolina Sanz De Acedo won the elementary school girls title at the flrunners.com Invitational in her first time racing at the 2K distance in a time of 8:08.
Sanz De Acedo had competed at the 3K distance last month in the middle school race at the Spanish River Invitational holding her own against older runners with a tenth place time of 12:34.
Drone Race Video: Elementary School Girls Race
The Boca Warriors Track Club had three runners among the top five places to help them secure the team title with a total of 24 points in fourth grader Ana Lucia Barba (3rd, 8:17), third grader Arielle Grlovetsky (4th, 8:26), fifth grader Faith Gladstone (5th, 8:30).
Finishing in between the race winner Sanz De Acedo and the Boca Warriors pack was Red Sea Running Club fifth grader Alice Illea with a strong runner-up effort of 8:13. Illea also helped Red Sea Running Club girls secure a runner-team finish with 50 points.