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OBC cross country: It’s the Bulldogs again

Posted on Thursday, October 19, 2017 at 2:48 pm

The boys sprint for position to begin the OBC cross country meet Wednesday. Photo/Rick Pedone

By Rick Pedone
Sports Editor
St. Cloud cross country coach Kevin Harkema wasn’t wearing a sign that read: “Will dance for an OBC cross country championship,” but that’s what he did after his girls and boys teams easily defended their crowns Wednesday at St. Cloud High.
After the awards ceremony, the coach responded to chants from his team of “Harkema! Harkema! Harkema!” by displaying a couple of modest dance moves that wouldn’t attract much attention from the producers of the popular TV show Dancing with the Stars. But, it delighted his runners.
“I’m proud of them – all of them,” Harkema said.
It was the eighth consecutive victory for the Lady Bulldogs – a county record – and the third in a row for the boys.
The individual champions also were familiar faces. Harmony’s Vanessa Bolen (19:36) won her third consecutive conference championship over teammate Allison Hicks (20:01). St. Cloud’s Tristen Montalvo (16:29) won his second straight conference title.
Bolen and Hicks led the all-Orange Belt Conference (top seven) girls team that also includes St. Cloud’s Valeria Villatoro (20:18), Vianca Villatoro (20:28), Ashanti Ramirez (20:54) and Deja Sheridan (21:06). Harmony’s Brooke Mullens (21:38) wrapped up the top seven, finishing just ahead of Celebration’s Gabriella Macedo (21:42) and Adriana Bahena (21:45).
Bailey Ansbaugh (21:48) was St. Cloud’s fifth runner and placed 10th.
The Lady Bulldogs (28) held off Harmony (43), Celebration (82), Osceola (109) and Liberty (110). Gateway and Poinciana did not have team scores.
“I wasn’t worried about the boys, but I was pretty nervous about the girls because Harmony has two real strong runners,” Harkema said. “But, I think just about everyone ran a PR for us today. I was really happy with our times.”
Montalvo led a 1-2-3 finish for the St. Cloud boys. Zach Cloud (16:44) and John-Anthony Hernandez (16:47) followed Montalvo. Hernandez and Harmony’s Nicholas Morrison (16:48) raced hard for third place. Also on the all-conference team were St. Cloud’s Alex Miranda (17:19), Celebration’s Alejandro Uriostegui and Harmony’s Jack Stevens. Rounding out the top 10 were Harmony’s Jack Stevens (17:30) and Bradley Justeson (17:31) and St. Cloud’s James Rice (17:42).
St. Cloud (21) led Harmony (40), Celebration (79), Gateway (84) and Osceola (138).
Bolen, who is building a resume that could make her the county’s best-ever female cross country runner after winning her third championship as a junior, said that she hasn’t been quite as quick as last year, but with districts looming next week she thinks that will change.
“I was good with my time today; it wasn’t terrible. My times have been a little slower this year, but now we’re at the point where we can get in some recovery work, that will bring my time down,” she said.
As the co-captain (with Hicks) of a team with many young runners, Bolen said that she is looking forward to leading her teammates to postseason success.
“Districts, we’re going to dominate! We own districts!” she said with confidence
Montalvo shook off a minor illness to win.
“I had been sick the whole week, but fortunately I felt better today and got the job done,” he said. “The weather was great. It was a nice, relaxing run.”
Montalvo, who ran a 15:51 at a pre-state meet last month, said that he is looking forward to qualifying for the state meet again, hopefully with his teammates. They race at districts next Saturday.
“There is one runner from Sarasota who is ranked ahead of me in my class (4A), but I haven’t had a chance to run against him yet,” Montalvo said. “I think our team has a chance to do very well.”
St. Cloud’s girls and Harmony’s boys won the JV championships.