Oak Hall girls runners-up again at area meet
Published: Saturday, September 14, 2013 at 8:15 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 14, 2013 at 8:15 p.m.
In just her third cross country race, Nadiria Evans surprised even herself when she remained within eyeshot of her team's most experienced runner in the final stretch of Saturday's Mountain Dew Invitational.
Running on the undulating hills of UF's Mark Bostick Golf Course, the Oak Hall freshman latched on to senior Brittney Olinger's 15th-place pace and passed The Sun's four-time Runner of the Year in the last 800 meters to set a personal-record 5K time of 19:04.82.
Behind Evans' 12th-place effort and four Eagles runners placing in the top 25 overall, Class 1A defending champion Oak Hall earned its second straight runner-up result at the 25th Mountain Dew Invitational with 101 points. Class 3A Estero won the meet with 63 points and four runners finishing in the top 15.
“It was the first time Brittney has ever been in my eyesight, because this is the first time I was actually able to get out like I'm used to,” Evans said. “I knew if I was with her, she would pull me and I would pull her.”
Evans, who enrolled at Oak Hall three weeks before school started, entered this season with no prior cross country experience and instead specialized in the 1,500-meter and 1,800-meter track runs as an AAU competitor.
In the Eagles' prior two meets this season — both of which were team victories — Evans was the second Oak Hall runner to cross the line behind Olinger.
“For her, it's just going to be continuing to have confidence that she can do this and that she can run the 5K,” Eagles coach Edwin McTureous said. “As we continue to train with her, I think she'll be more and more confident with the race. But I think today was a good breakout race for her.”
Finishing behind Evans and Olinger in 20th place was Lauren Perry (19:22.25) followed by Talia Carlson (19:31.43), who placed 23rd overall out of 394 runners.
With 56 teams entered in the race, Buchholz finished 18th as a team, led by Isabella Whelan's 29th-place run of 19:47.94 and a 30th-place result by Sarah Edens in 19:48.70.
While McTureous was hoping for an overall victory, he was pleased that his team edged Class 1A's top-ranked team, Melbourne Holy Trinity Episcopal, for the second straight meet. Though junior Julie Woolrath claimed an individual victory with a time of 18:17.85 on Saturday, the Tigers finished in fourth place overall with a 133 total.
“It's close though, and it's going to be close all year battling with them,” said McTureous, who is in his 16th season coaching at Oak Hall. “It is like last year. I've been competing against (Holy Trinity coach Doug Butler) for many years — 13, 14, 15 years. They'll be ready when it counts at state time.”
In the boys varsity race, P.K. Yonge senior Joseph Janson stayed in touch with the leaders after a scorching opening mile to finish 10th individually for the 27th-place Blue Wave.
Janson, who entered the meet with the area's top 5K time, bested his own personal record by nearly 16 seconds with a 16:04.95 among a field of 417 runners.
Buchholz senior Andrew Monteau led the 18th-place Bobcats with a 50th-place finish in 16:58.27, while junior Karsten Pease ran his 61st-place result in 17:07.02.
Fort Myers senior Tyler Bennett won the race by more than 18 seconds with a final time of 15:24.29. Off a sprinting start, Bennet set an opening mile pace of 4:45.07 to pull away from his fellow runners. Fort Myers, however, would finish second overall to Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas in the final standings.
“The first mile was faster than I thought it would be,” Janson said. “I came in at 4:58 or something, but I was like, 'I can't slow down now.'”
For full Mountain Dew Invitational results, visit www.halfmiletiming.com.