BOYS WINNER - Elliot Clemente - Senior @ Belen Jesuit
Belen Jesuit star Elliot Clemente continues to prove why he is the best runner in the state and one of the best in the nation. The senior posted another state leading time at the Spanish River Invitational in a blazing 15:27. Coach Frankie Ruiz says Clemente races just like he trains: focused and determined to run his best.
"He is in the best shape of his running career thus far and his turnover and form throughout the race are evidence of this. He has approached each race with equal importance and taken no competitor for granted. He understand that he has to earn every step. The best part so far is that he has pretty much started this season where he left off his junior year and that is what we try and ask of our runners each season."
His strategy at South County Regional Park was to run his race and put an emphasis on the second lap of the two lap course. It's a strategy that paid off for Clemente and his Belen teammates as well. The Wolverines have been dominant and the senior is at the helm. It is his leadership that has Ruiz speaking volumes.
"He is a very humble leader on this team. He is a best friend to the fastest and slowest guys on the team. He treats every runner on the team with the same respect. He is unselfish in everything he does and that is admired by his peers and teammates. His main role is to lead by example both on the course and at workouts. Beyond his performance role he makes up an important part of the puzzle through his mentoring of the younger runners, as he is excellent and very effective at speaking to runners on the team on a one-on-one basis."
Clemente has won three team titles, but has yet to win individual gold. Despite that missing state championship Coach Ruiz says he ranks as one of the best in the school's history.
"Belen has definitely had its fair share of great runners and each had their own unique style and Elliot is more certainly unique in both form and style. He has a very relaxed and composed style that will be remembered for years to come. His natural ability will always be mentioned, but I must point out that he has been a runner for most of his life, therefore, he has worked his way to this level. I think Elliot can be as good as he wants. He has many of the physical attributes and definitely the right attitude. I am excited to see how much more he does the rest of his school career both in cross country and track. His collegiate career should be a great one to watch as well."
Elliot's Athlete Profile
GIRLS WINNER - Vanessa Valentine - Senior @ Melbourne
Vanessa Valentine finished 2010 with a runner-up finish at the 4A state meet. It's no surprise that the Melbourne senior's success has continued onto this season. Valentine remained perfect at the Mount Dora Bible Invitational winning her fourth victory there in four years. Her time of 19:08 on a tough Mount Dora course was a new course record and nearly 50 seconds faster than her course record time a year ago. Coach TJ Woodbury sums up her performance in one word, "incredible."
"Vanessa is a four year varsity runner so she knows what it is like to run out front. She's to do that and does a good job doing that. After the first mile everyone fell off and she kept going. She doesn't let up when the race is in hand. She continues to push the pace and doesn't let up. She ran a 19:08 very controlled and very impressive."
Last year Valentine ran in the low 18's after running 19:58 at the Mount Dora Bible Invitational. Since then she has been consistent and locked into the Mel-High training program which has helped her improve. Coach Woodbury says it is conceivable the Bulldog standout can run in the 17's by season's end.
"Her performance is definitely an indicator of where she is at. It really highlights that she is in good condition. To be 50 seconds faster than last year on the same course gives her a good boost of confidence going into the 3A girl's race that is going to be very competitive. She has definitely shown she is going to be in that lead pack in Dade City in November."
Vanessa's Athlete Profile