ENGLEWOOD — Placing four runners in the top 10, LaBelle’s boys team cruised to victory in the Region 2A-3 Cross Country meet Saturday morning at Lemon Bay High School.
The Cowboys’ Enrique Jimenez took first with a time of 16:27, eight seconds ahead of second place Antonio Gomez of Frostproof, as LaBelle captured its second consecutive regional championship.
“I wanted five runners in the sixteens and we got three,” said LaBelle coach Jef Frost. “It’s more important for their confidence. I know they’re going to run faster at state. Once they get to the sixteens then they’ll say, ‘Okay, now we’re going to go really fast at states.’”
Trailing Jimenez in fourth and fifth were Omar Figueroa (16:40) and Yoan Prado (16:44). Brendon Herrera (17:03) and Dalton Hyser (17:07) just missed breaking the 17-minute mark.
“I was just trying to do my race and stay with whoever was up front and take it all out on them and that’s what I did today,” said Jimenez. “One of the Immokalee guys, the guy from Frostproof and one of my teammates were up front with me. That was my goal, to stay with them and try to take them out at the end. Hopefully, it will help me to get a good place at states next week.”
The Cowboys total of 26 points was well ahead of second place Immokalee with 65. Lely was third with 101 and Lemon Bay finished fourth with 153. The top six teams and top 15 runners earned spots at next week’s state meet in Tallahassee.
“There’s some special things we’re going to try to do at state, kind of David and Goliath stuff, that if the kids run really well, we’ll be in a battle for second place,” said Frost. “Enrique is really peaking at the right time. He PR’ed today. He had a 16:31 last year at states and ran a 16:27 today, so he might have a shot at the fifteens. Omar was not far behind him. They’re both going to take a shot at getting in the fifteens at state and helping us do something special. But the rest have got to come with them.”
LaBelle finished fourth in the state last year and will be looking to improve on that position.
The LaBelle girls will be joining the boys at State with their sixth-place finish. Lemon Bay’s Maddison Welch, Abigayle Weinfeld, and Kelsi Ogilvie swept the top three places as the Mantas edged out the Academy of the Holy Names for first place overall.
Rebekah Lapp was the Cowgirls top finisher in 20th place (21:35) while Esmeralda Rodriguez was 22nd with a time of 21:53.
No other area runners qualified for next week’s competition. Julia Canzano was Bishop Verot’s top finisher in 32nd place.
On the boys side, Andrew Shepherd led Bishop Verot with a 22nd place finish, while TyRelle Powell of Dunbar came in 25th.
Region 2A-3 cross country meet
1. LaBelle 26 2. Immokalee 65 3. Lely 101 4. Lemon Bay 153 5. Frostproof 174 6. McKeel Academy 191 7. Berkeley Prep 219 8. Hardee 221 9. Dunbar 237 10. Lakewood 242 11. Clearwater Central Catholic 269 12. Tampa Jefferson 272 13. DeSoto County 294 14. Spoto 393
1. Enrique Jimenez, LaBelle 16:27
2. Antonio Gomez, Frostproof 16:35
3. Leonel Ochoa, Berkeley Prep 16:35
4. Omar Figueroa, LaBelle 16:40
5. Yoan Prado, LaBelle 16:44
6. Dylan Branch, Avon Park 16:44
7. Daniel Dean, Mitchell 16:50
8. Andonet Thermidor, Immokalee 16:58
9. Ryan Bausback, Booker 16:59
10. Brendon Herrera, LaBelle 17:03
11. Robert Garcia, Lely 17:06
12. Dalton Hyser, LaBelle 17:07
13. Mackenson Yrelus, Immokalee 17:11
14. Justin Walker, Lakewood 17:11
15. Justin Reyes, LaBelle 17:13
1. Lemon Bay 56 2. Holy Names 60 3. Frostproof 90 4. Berkeley Prep 106 5. Lely 115 6. LaBelle 134 7. Immokalee 140 8. Hardee 209 9. McKeel Academy 227 10. Clearwater Central Catholic 288 11. DeSoto County 308 12. Tampa Catholic 338
1. Maddison Welch, Lemon Bay 19:37
2. Abigayle Weinfeld, Lemon Bay 19:39
3. Kelsi Ogilvie, Lemon Bay 19:48
4. Maura Poling, Lely 20:04
5. Selena Valasquez-Morales, Immokalee 20:21
6. Greta Dieck, Holy Names 20:30
7. Emma Zazzero, Holy Names 20:38
8. Hannah McAuliffe, Lakewood 20:42
9. Cristal Gomez, Frostproof 20:44
10. Kristen Robinson, Lemon Bay 20:50
11. Isabel Aguilar, Frostproof 20:53
12. Gabriella Rybinski, Frostproof 20:54
13. Amber Gonzales, Immokalee 20:56
14. Caroline Brown, Berkeley Prep 21:04
15. Victoria Baldor, Holy Names 21:12