Sports Editor

Both the Harmony boys and girls cross country squads earned a spot in last year’s Class 3A state meet in Tallahassee.

Based on the results of the District 3A-8 meet last weekend at Lake Region High School, they’re going back — and Coach Shasta Edwards’ girls team could be out front.

Both teams won the district titles, just like St. Cloud did at the District 4A-5 meet it hosted Thursday, as both Bulldogs teams also try to return to states.

But it was the Lady Longhorns’ domination that opened eyes on Saturday. The team posted a perfect score of 15, and Harmony swept the top seven spots and had 10 of the top 13.

Senior Allison Hicks (19:53.79) was the district champ, followed by Brooke Mullins (20:24.92), Alanie Rivera (21:04.90), Ashanti Ramirez (21:11.88), Vanessa Bolen (21:14.37), Claire Darrin (21:21.88) and Ariana Ramos Mercado (21:30.57).

Liberty (113), led by freshman Nyidajah Ives (12th, 23:32.45) also qualified for the Region 2 race on Saturday at Lecanto High.

The boys race had much more intrigue, as Harmony (38) nipped Auburndale (39) for the team title. It took the Longhorns putting its five runners in the top 13 to win: Nicholas Morrison (fifth, 17:53.80), Stephen Romer (seventh, 18:10.28), Hunter Oppedal (eighth, 18:29.81), Gary Kelley (ninth, 18:30.63) and Richard Marino (13th, 18:44.13).

At St. Cloud, the Bulldogs put four runners in the top seven spots, including district champ John-Anthony Hernandez (16:21.92) to post 32 points to win the 4A-5 boys meet over George Jenkins (62).

Tohopekaliga (90) in its first district meet, Celebration (112) and Gateway (159) finished third through fifth to qualify for the Region 2 meet Saturday at The Farm in Punta Gorda.

St. Cloud got top-10 runs from Zach Cloud (third, 16:28.76), Alex Miranda (fifth, 17:27.42) and Frank Cordovez (seventh, 17:39.30).

“The boys ran great, I thought it was going to be a tough battle between George Jenkins and us, but the boys all stepped it up,” St. Cloud Coach Kevin Harkema said. “John-Anthony had one of the greatest finishes that I have seen from one of my runners to win the title, it was pretty exciting.  Zach is running great and Alex Miranda is running smart which is helping Frank.  Angelo Gutierrez (16th, 18:07.78) ran a huge personal best as a freshman to round out our top five. The boys have a good chance to make it to state if they run (Saturday) like they did at districts.”

HHS district cross country

The Harmony boys and girls cross country teams show off their District 3A-8 hardware and championship trophies, won Saturday at Lake Region High School.

Tohopekaliga was led by Adolfo Castro (sixth, 17:35.40) and Jerdary Ayala (eighth, 17:40.17). Celebration’s Jared Falchook (ninth, 17:46.29) and Hudson Rucker (10th, 17:50.22) cracked the top 10.

St. Cloud (66) and Celebration’s (93) girls finished second and third to punch tickets to Saturday’s regional race. Also, Osceola’s Lanisa Gibson (22:25.65) and Katie Mejia (22:28.87) were 11th and 12th and qualified individually.

The Storm were led by Gabriella Macedo (sixth, 21:20). St. Cloud’s Leilani We (21:48.70) and Hazel Rodriguez (21:50.58) were eighth and ninth.

“The girls also ran really good compared to what they have done this season,” Harkema said. “They were runner-up to a great team in George Jenkins.”