Considered the top cross country distance runner in the region for the entire season, St. Cloud senior Zachary Cloud put on a strong display at the Class 4A State Championship in Tallahassee on Saturday with a fifth place overall finish.
Cloud covered the 5K distance at Appalacian Regional Park in 15:49.70, finishing about 25 seconds off the pace of 4A Champion Rheinhar Harrison, a sophomore from Nease High School, who won the event in 15:24.57.
The finish capped a great season for Cloud, who dominated all season and earlier won the OBC, District and Regional Championships.
Teammate John-Anthony Hernandez gave St. Cloud two individual top 12 finishers as he placed 11th in the race at 15:58.12.
Overall, St. Cloud finished in 17th place in the team competition with 424 points. Other runners contributing to the team score where junior Frank Cordovez (118th overall), sophomore Jonathan MacNab (122nd), and junior Aiden Cuddy (170th).
In addition to the Bulldogs, both Tohopekaliga and Celebration also qualified for the 32-team field. The Tigers, led by a senior Jerdary Ayala’s 21st place finish of 16:16.19, ended up in 21st place with a team score of 576; while the Storm (708) was 30th in the team competition. Sophomore Jarad Falchook was the top Celebration runner, finishing in 44th place overall with a time of 16:30.89.
Tampa’s George Steinbrenner (129) placed five runners in the top 50 to win the Class 4A Team Championship – edging Nease (141), who had three runners in the top five but could not match the overall depth of Steinbrenner.
On the girls’ side, Harmony’s Alanie Rivera (So.) and Brooke Mullins (Jr.) ran side-by-side for most of the race, and recorded top 10 finishes to lead the Lady Longhorns to an impressive 8th place team finish in the Class 3A Championship that was also held at Appalacian Regional Park.
Rivera placed 6th in the team scoring competition and 8th overall in 18:37.39; while Mullins was seventh in the team scoring and 9th overall, finishing three seconds behind Rivera in 18:40.27.
Freshman Brynn Wagner (22nd overall), senior Claire Darrin (73rd) and freshman Rebekah Wiles (157th) posted team finishes for the Lady Longhorns, who only had one senior in their top five runners this year and should post a powerful team next season.
On the team side, Winter Springs (113) placed three runners in top 15 to edge St. Augustine (127) for the team championship.