Area runners finish strong at state cross country meet
Saturday, November 17, 2012
by Brian Miller
For weeks now, Spanish River senior Ellyn Snider has talked about how much it would mean to run in front of her father, who lives in Texas.
She earned his appearance at Saturday morning's Class 4A state cross country final by capturing third at regionals last week.
While there were tears being shed before the race at Apalachee Regional Park, there was nothing but happiness beaming from Snider's bright blue-lined eyes after.
Snider turned in a time of 18:41, good enough for fifth place. That wasn't what mattered.
"It means the world to me," Snider said. "I'm so blessed my dad was able to fly in and see me run for the first time all season. That played a major part in me staying strong out there."
Snider duked it out with winner Bridget Blake of Dr. Phillips and runner-up Alexa Cruz of St. Thomas Aquinas, holding her own for a while, operating on her recent emotion, as opposed to just thinking tactically.
"Instead of focusing on 'Oh, my legs hurt. Oh, I'm so tired,' I was able to keep my mind on what needed to be done," Snider said. "It made me stronger. It made me more focused and determined to finish with a strong time."
Snider's teammate, Catherine Vianale, finished 26th in 19:36. Laurel Brennan (64th) and Kaley Doyle (69th) were the top finishers for Park Vista. Ann Vallace finished 59th for Dwyer. All three schools finished outside the top 10 in the team standings.
In 3A boys' action, John I. Leonard's Salvador Medrano faced off with Colonial's Andres Arroyo, the eventual winner, as well as Timber Creek freshman and Columbus senior Daniel Fernandez. Medrano took home fourth behind the threesome in a sprint, crossing in 15:45.
"I was hoping top three, but fourth is good enough because I (set a personal record)," Medrano said. "It feels good because it was my last meet, so I'm happy."
Spanish River sophomore Caleb Rader chugged in at 16:31, good for 30th. Kevin Gelatt was Park Vista's highest runner in 62nd-place. All three schools also finished outside the top 10, but Medrano took home a positive outlook, especially after staring down the starting line at a field full of top talent.
"I was nervous," Medrano said. "I always get nervous, but this time I was more nervous because there were faster people. I had no idea how I'd do. To do this good at state with all those good people, feels great."