After a lot of anticipation and discussion, American Heritage made the last minute decision to pull out of the FSU Invitational in Tallahassee and instead stay local at the Varela Viper Invitational. It was an unanticipated opening to the 2012 season after the girls were "unofficially" crowned the runners-up in the 2A classification last year. It was a really great time for the program, followed by a successful track season. But slowly over the past ten months, things have started to unravel for the proud program. Through coaching changes, controversy, and rumors some started to wonder if we'd ever see the still talented Heritage team suit up this season. That question has finally been answered.
Last week a single runner, young up-and-coming eighth grader Calyope Ortega was the first to do so. She ran a 20:13 for 23rd place in the Invitational last week, running solo at the meet. But this week, Heritage made its opening on a (slightly) grander scale. Three girls varsity runners went into action at Varela Viper--not including Ortega--with Rachelle Alexander being the top finisher from the black and gold with a respectable 20:28 second place performance behind Lea Tardanico of home team Varela's 20:04. The team's biggest star, eighth grade track sensation Daesha Rogers, started the race off strong by leading early but fell off pace and held on for a third palce 20:52, some 25 seconds behind her teammate. The Patriot's #3 runner was Melissa Salazar at 31st place and 24:02, but that's where scoring stopped... leaving Heritage with an NTS this week.
The boys team managed to field two varsity runners; however, they also fielded middle school runners with the boys fielding a full team. Hopefully they'll be able to piece it together by season's end. The talent is certainly there to not only get back to the state meet but finish at least top ten, but time is starting to run out. Elligibility requires a minimum number of races as the last weeks of the season are upon us.
Despite the Heritage update... it was South Fork's girls team taking the big 38-49 win over CArdinal Gibbons. South Fork went 2-3-4-13-16 for a 22:22 average on the tough Larry and Penny course, with Gibbons placing 1-2-5-6-12-25 for a 22:37 average. Lea Tardanico of Varela was impressive in winning and setting her new personal best mark of 20:04--seven seconds better than last week at flrunners--but the home team fielded two runners.
For the boys, it was sophomore Carlos Penaranda of Pembroke Pines Charter with the first invitational win of his high school career. He ran a personal best 17:20 to outpace Fabian Delgado of Miami Killian by twenty seconds. Key West pulled off the narrow victory over the Coral Reef B team with 70 points and an 18:38 over Reef's 74 (18:42).
- Girls 5,000 Meter Run - Lea Tardanico (Felix Varela HS) 20:04.94; Rachelle Alexander (American Heritage MS/HS (Plantation)) 20:28.29; Daesha Rogers (American Heritage MS/HS (Plantation)) 20:52.06; Morgan Rodriguez (Cardinal Gibbons HS) 21:06.95;
- Boys 5,000 Meter Run - Carlos Penaranda (Pembroke Pines Charter HS) 17:20.03; Fabian Delgado (Miami Killian HS) 17:40.61; Jeremy Abdo (Coral Reef HS) 17:41.39;