(Photos By Courteney Zboyan)
The 2014 Fleet Feet Invitational in Stuart was one of the largest meets on the calendar this weekend. Heavy rains Friday night caused meet organizers to consider cancelling the event due to a flooded course. However, the coaching staff, members of Elite Timing, and others worked countless hours to prepare an "alternate course" so that the 25 girls teams, 18 boys teams, and several hundred athletes could compete. The course measured just shy of three miles, but kudos to everyone for even getting this meet off the ground!
Seventh grader Tsion Yared continued her spectacular season. Yared was pushed by 3x 1A Cross Country Finals champion Julie Wollrath now at Melbourne. Yared crossed the line first, but the fact that Wollrath was only seven seconds back should make the girls in 3A a little nervous. She might have had ten months off between her last race and the start of the season, but she's a competitor and you better believe she wants another ring. Yared's teammate Julia Montgomery who won this event the last two years was third with South Fork's Bethany Hardcastle behind her in fourth. Pine Crest placed their top five in the fifteen with a team average of 19:20.24 to finish first with 36 points. Coral Reef (84) and Vero Beach (97) points were second and third.
In the boy's race it was a group of three led by Ryan Rodriguez of Belen Jesuit and the Coral Reef duo of Carlin Berryhill and Kurt Convey that took it out hard early and had to do so because of the muddy conditions. Sarasota's tandem of Adam Bradtmueller and Zack Summerall caught up around the one mile mark and made it a group of five. Bradtmueller, who won his last two races, tried to take the lead on Berryhill, but the junior wasn't have any of it, throwing in surges to wear out the group. He and Convey took off at the 1.5 mile mark, but his teammate dropped out of the Berryhill began to pull away at two miles, stringing out the group with Rodriguez and Summerall battling it out for second and third, That's how they would finish in that order, with the Coral Reef junior picking up his first win of the season and legitamizing himself as a contender for the 4A crown. Bradtmueller was fourth with Jaime Lopez of Belen in fifth, and Martin County's Sean Barricklow coming in sixth. Belen Jesuit (39) captured yet another team trophy on the year beating out Sarasota (74), Columbus (81), and Coral Reef (106 points).
"I didn't really have a game plan going on, but to just go 1 & 2 or 2& 1 with my teammate Kurt convey. I adjusted by just watching my foot placement and really getting out to a strong, fast start. I felt I ran pretty hard. I felt really good on this muddy course but it was a fun race."
Race Videos/Interviews By Toni Gariano/Courteney Zboyan