Sports Editor

HHS Allison Hicks

Harmony senior Allison Hicks was the Orange Belt Conference and District 3A-8 girls cross country champion. She also led the Longhorns at the regional and Class 3A state meets.

This past fall’s Osceola News-Gazette Cross Country Runners of the Year had posted solid seasons prior to 2018, but ran in the shadows of other incredible runners.

St. Cloud’s Zach Cloud and Harmony’s Allison Hicks had run on the same teams as Tristen Montalvo and Vanessa Bolen, multiple winners of the honor.

Montalvo graduated, and small injuries slowed Bolen a bit this year, so Cloud and Hicks were able to shine and led their teams this year to Orange Belt Conference titles and to the Class 3A girls and Class 4A boys state meets.

While Hicks is a senior — who leaves talented teammates behind to shine — Cloud is a junior with one more year to run.

SC XC Zach Cloud

St. Cloud cross country Runner of the Year Zach Cloud won the boys Orange Belt Conference and led the Bulldogs at the regional and Class 4A state meets.

All-County Girls Cross Country:

Runner of the Year: Allison Hicks (HHS, Sr.)

All-county team: Harmony: Alanie Rivera, Claire Darrin, Ashanti Ramirez, Vanessa Bolen. Celebration: Gabriella Macedo. St. Cloud: Leilani We. Liberty: Nyidjah Ives.

All-County Boys Cross Country:

Runner of the Year: Zach Cloud (SCHS, Jr.)

All-county team: St. Cloud: John Anthony Hernandez, Alex Miranda, Frank Cordovez. Celebration: Hudson Rucker. Tohopekaliga: Adolfo Castro. Harmony: Nicholas Morrison.

Cloud won the OBC individual race in 17 minutes flat, 16 seconds ahead of John-Anthony Hernandez, who pushed him all year for tops in the county. He then ran third at the District 4A-5 race (16:28), fifth at the Region 2 race (16:10) and then 29th at the Class 4A state meet (16:39) as part of a Bulldog team that finished 11th overall at state.

Hicks rallied at the OBC meet to pass teammate Brooke Mullins to win in 20:43, then was the first of seven Longhorn finishers — the top seven in the race — at the District 3A-8 meet, which she won in 19:53.

“Allison is a fantastic young lady who works incredibly hard but we've literally waited years for her to finally bust through the 20-minute mark wall,” Harmony cross county Coach Shasta Edwards. “The last few weeks were the best of her high school cross country career and a fantastic way to wrap things up.  She's definitely earned all of honors she has received this season.”

From there Hicks finished fourth at the Region 3 meet in 19:26 leading Harmony to a win there, and 25th at the State 3A meet in 19:33 as the Longhorns met expectations of a top-10 team finish, going seventh.

Of note, Bolen, despite her injury, finished seventh at the OBC meet, earning her fourth All-Conference nod, and was a key contributor to the Longhorns’ push.