3A Boys State Meet Preview

In the Hunt...

  • Carlos Miranda (Palmetto Ridge)
  • Avery Lopez (Belen Jesuit)
  • Tyler Bennett (Ft. Myers)
  • Ace Brown (Ft. Myers)
  • Thomas Howell (Niceville)
  • Nick Morken (Niceville)

Fighting for the Podium...

  • Belen Jesuit
  • Ft. Walton Beach
  • Ft. Myers


Individual Analysis...

The individual race could play out a number of ways. With twenty runners under sixteen minutes and four under 15:30 one thing is for certain is that it will be fast. Carlos Miranda has the fastest time coming in with a 15:07 he set at the flrunners.com Race of Champions, a race in which he beat Avery Lopez of Belen Jesuit. Miranda has raced against the Fort Myers duo of Tyler Bennett and Ace Brown several times including most recently at the 3A Region 3 Championships. The Palmetto Ridge senior won in a time of 16:08.20, five seconds faster than Brown, and ten seconds faster than Bennett. Bennett and Brown, however, beat out Miranda at the district meet. Miranda has been having issues with iron deficiency throughout the season so that might explain his performance at district. It will be interesting to see if that has any effect at state. Another duo in the mix for the state title are juniors Thomas Howell and NIck Morken of Niceville. The pair have gone 1-2 for their team most of the season and in the postseason it's been no different. Howell is coming off of a new personal best 15:25.37 at the 3A Region 2 Championship and is peaking at the right time.  This group has faced off twice, once at flrunners and the other at Pre-State. The order of those finishes was as follows Miranda (first), Lopez (second), Morken (fourth), Bennett (fifth), Brown (sixth), and Howell (seventh) at the flrunners.com Invitational. At Pre-State, it was all of them except for Miranda with Bennett (second), Morken (third), Howell (fourth), Lopez (fifth), and Brown (sixth) with just fourteen seconds separating the group. This one should be tight for a majority of the race with Miranda, Lopez, Bennett and Howell, separating themselves the last 800 meters. Lopez edges out Miranda at the line with Bennett and Howell coming in third and fourth.

Team Analysis

Belen Jesuit is looking for its fourth state title in five years. Last year, the Wolverines won the 3A Cross Country Finals, the Nike South Regional, and advanced to Nike Nationals in Portland, Oregon where they finished as the 20th best team in the country. Coach Ruiz doesn't rebuild down their in South Florida, he reloads. Much like Estero, on the girls side Belen has been a powerhouse program in recent years. Led by Avery Lopez and Fabian Tomas this year's Wolverine's squad has the firepower to win another title and I think they will. Belen has a team average of 15:54.15, ten seconds faster than a strong Fort Walton Beach Team. FWB and Ft. Myers will challenge, but Belen has got the best of them in head to head matchups this season. At the flrunners.com Invitational Race of Champions Belen beat Fort Myers by 39 points to win that event for the third year in a row. At Pre-State, top ten finishes by Lopez and Tomas gave Belen their biggest team win of the year defeating Georgia power Norcross, 4A defending champion Colonial, 1a defending champion Holy Trinity, as well as Fort Myers and Fort Walton Beach who finished fifth and sixth.  Three points separated Fort Myers and Fort Walton Beach at Pre-State and I think the second spot on the podium will be tight between those two. Fort Myers has a great duo in Tyler Bennett and Ace Brown that should finish in the top ten and should have three runners in before the Vikings first. However, as soon as their number three comes in a host of FWB runners will trickle in. The Vikings post an incredible 1-5 spread of just sixteen seconds and run great as a pack. Belen defends their title with Fort Walton Beach edging Fort Myers for the first time this season and relying on their depth to finish as state runner-up.

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