Lady Bulldogs run at state x-country meet
By Rick Pedone
The St. Cloud Lady Bulldogs will compete at the Class 4A state cross country meet at Tallahassee this morning after placing fifth at the 4A-2 regional at North Port last week.
Liberty’s Rogelio Araiza also will compete at the Class 3A meet.
The Lady Bulldogs were led by Gracie Miller (19:21), sixth at the regional.
She was followed by Orange Belt Conference champion Karissa Solorzano (9th, 19:46), Octavia Gonzalez (29th, 20:45), Kim Napolean (52nd, 21:30) and Devin Montalvo (56th, 21:35).
Coach Kevin Harkema said the Lady Bulldogs are capable of a top 10 finish.
“We were fifth in our very tough region. We are ranked 12th (among the state qualifiers) and have a shot at finishing 10th, which would be huge,” he said. “The girls have worked hard for this and deserve the moment no matter what place they get.”
Liberty’s Araiza, a junior and the two-time OBC champion, was third (16:16.40) at the 3A-2 regional at Lake Nona.
The top six teams and top 15 individuals from each region advance.
“He ran smart and still had some in the tank,” Chargers Coach Robert Pauley said. “He just hung around the top 10, when with 1,200 to go in the race we made the call ‘drop the hammer’ and he started picking people off like a kid picking pumpkins in a pumpkin patch.”
Pauley said that as good as Araiza ran last week, he will have to be better in order to crack the top 10 at the state meet.
Several runners will post times of 15:30 or better today based on previous performances.
“Our goal is around 15:50 to 15:55, and where that lands him we will be fine,” Pauley said.
“He is ranked 47th with a 16:16, but he was ranked 15th in the region and finished third. I’m not a believer in rankings. It doesn’t matter where you are ranked, it matters how you do that day and that is all that matters.”