The Sunlake High School varsity boys cross-country team continued to show itself as among the state’s elite distance running programs and tops in Pasco County, and in The Laker/Lutz News coverage area.
The Seahawks finished in third place out of 32 schools in Class 3A at the FHSAA (Florida High School Athletic Association) State Cross Country Championships at Apalachee Regional Park, in Tallahassee.
The 3A team crown went to Miami’s Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, which tallied 42 points after its top five runners went second, ninth, 10th, 14th and 17th place, respectively. It represents that private school’s fifth-consecutive state title and 13th all-time.
Second place went to Fort Myers High School, who tallied 132 points after its top-five finished seventh, 22nd, 37th, 44th and 50th.
Sunlake wasn’t far behind.
They tallied 151 points, as its fleet went third, 16th, 23rd, 58th, and 76th in the 3.1-mile course on Nov. 12.
Rounding out the top five team finishers were Fort Lauderdale’s St. Thomas Aquinas High School (201 points) and Naples High School (235 points), respectively.
Junior Alex Pena — who paced Sunlake with a third-place individual finish — broke the 16-minute mark by clocking a 15:46.8, a 5:04 per mile pace.
The lone runners in the 3A meet who finished ahead of Pena were Leon High School sophomore Patrick Koon (first place, 15:23.8) and Belen Jesuit sophomore Joshua Ruiz (second, 15:37.4).
Following Pena for Sunlake were seniors Colby Robbins (16:21.3) and Cason Meyer (16:21.3); freshman Cade Culpepper (17:03.1); and, senior Maximillian Goserud (17:16.9).
The Seahawks sixth and seventh varsity runners — whose scores aren’t tallied in the results — were junior Nathan Lee (17:47.7) and senior Cody Smith (18:16.7).
The timed average for the Sunlake boys was 16:36, equating to an average pace of 5:21 per mile. There was just a 1:31 gap between its No. 1 through No. 5 runners.
The Seahawks, coached by Randal Reeves, racked up a number of other accolades during the season — altogether sweeping conference, district and regional team titles.
Robbins took individual crowns at each of those three meets. This included recording the fastest time in county history (and setting a new Sunlake record) with a 15:14 mark on the school’s 5K home course at the Sunshine Athletic Conference (SAC) meet on Oct. 20.
Other individuals from The Laker/Lutz News coverage area also fared well in the 3A boys meet.
Cypress Creek High School junior Zack Poekert finished sixth overall, timing 16:05.
Zephyrhills High School sophomore William Poe took 26th, clocking 16:35.
The meet featured 234 runners.
Several local teams and individuals exhibited solid showings at the state finals across other classifications, too.
The Wharton High School varsity girls yielded the next best local team showing — finishing 10th in the Class 4A meet.
The Wildcats were paced by senior Brooke Reif — a University of Richmond signee — who finished fourth among all individual 4A girls, after running an 18:49.2, an average pace of 6:03 per mile.
The Sunlake girls went 14th in the 3A meet, while the Land O’ Lakes High School girls collected a 26th place finish.
The Steinbrenner High School boys program went 24th in the 4A contest.F
Land O’ Lakes native Elli Black — a home-schooled seventh-grader who runs for Tampa Cambridge Christian School — finished state third overall in the 1A girls meet, posting 18:26.4. The other state qualifying girls individual was Wiregrass Ranch freshman Ava Schmitt (48th, 20:27.3, 4A girls).
Roundup of local teams and individuals at the 2021 FHSAA Cross Country State Championships:
Ronald Aeschleman, senior (57th, 16:52)
Sawyer Raveling, senior (111th, 17:37.1)
Jaden Simpson, senior (124th, 17:46.0)
Jacob Smith, junior (169th, 18:25.4)
Joaquin Abanses, freshman (170th, 18:26.3)
Brady Peifer, freshman (172nd, 18:28.3)
Eion McDarby, senior (212th, 19:49.7)
Alex Pena, junior (third, 15:46.8)
Colby Robbins, senior (16th, 16:21.3)
Cason Meyer, senior (23rd, 16:31.8)
Cade Culpepper, freshman (58th, 17:03.1)
Maximillian Goserud, senior (76th, 17:16.9)
Nathan Lee, junior (110th, 17:47.7)
Cody Smith, senior (148th, 18:16.7)
Cypress Creek: Zack Poekert, junior (sixth, 16:05)
Zephyrhills: William Poe, sophomore (26th, 16:35.5)
No local teams or individual runners
No local teams or individual runners
Brooke Reif, senior (fourth, 18:49.2)
Alexi Amer, senior (51st, 20:30.8)
Alexandria Frye, senior (81st, 20:56.5)
Olivia Hammill, junior (109th, 21:18.3)
Aubrey Raile, junior (127th, 21:46.6)
Keira Moody, freshman (191st, 23:27.7)
Dana Robinson, senior (209th, 24:22.9)
Wiregrass Ranch: Ava Schmitt, freshman (48th, 20:27.3)
Sara Ellingson, senior (54th, 20:15.7)
Shelby Viseur, senior (77th, 20:39.9)
Avery Pham, sophomore (78th, 20:41.1)
Abigail Williams, sophomore (89th, 20:49.8)
Jaiden Wickert, junior (128th, 21:35.8)
Emma Burleson, senior (145th, 21:57.8)
Ally Moyer, sophomore (165th, 22:22.6)
Land O’ Lakes (26th)
Maranda Hildebrand, senior (88th, 20:48.9)
Sara Ashley, senior (133th, 21:39.2)
Aileen Castillo, sophomore (152nd, 22:04.0)
Dixie Blessing, freshman (169th, 22:43.5)
Ava Adriana, sophomore (171st, 22:47.0)
Grace Connoy, sophomore (200th, 23:38.6)
Alli Laffler, freshman (202nd, 23:40.9)
Elli Black, Cambridge Christian (Land O’ Lakes resident), eighth grade (third, 18:26.4)
Published Nov. 24, 2021