BCAA XC Win For Boys and Girls - JV and Varsity
October 22, 2012St. Thomas Aquinas High School
BCAA Cross Country
STA WINS BIG!
By Steve Gorten, Sun Sentinel
9:36 p.m. EDT, October 19, 2012
St. Thomas Aquinas' Matthew Butler led for the first two and a half miles of the boys BCAA cross country championship race Friday afternoon before Pembroke Pines Charter's Carlos Penaranda snatched the lead.
Then came a furious sprint and one thrilling finish at Markham Park.
"My legs started dying and then I heard my mom screaming," Butler said, referring to Aquinas boys and girls coach Trish Butler. "When she started screaming, I ran like a bat out of hell."
Butler and Penaranda raced neck-and-neck for about the final 50 meters, with Butler ultimately overtaking Panaranda and crossing the line first in 16:39.66. Penaranda finished 1.26 seconds behind with Coral Glades' Anthony Deleva taking third (16:45.14).
The girls race lacked such suspense.
Freshman Alexa Cruz and her St. Thomas teammates dominated, claiming four of the top five spots and five of the top eight. Cruz captured the individual title with a time of 19:09.45. Teammate Marina Braynon-Moore finished 30 seconds later, followed by Cypress Bay's Kat MacNeal.
St. Thomas' Brianna Rischar (20:17.16), Megan Schloss (20:34.14) and Lily Kloepfer (21:17.48) crossed the finish line fourth, five and eighth, respectively.
The Raiders won the girls team title with 20 points. Cardinal Gibbons finished second with 65 and Cypress Bay placed third with 77. The Raiders also took the boys title with 51 points, followed by Douglas (83) and Pembroke Pines Charter (132).
Cruz couldn't stop smiling after becoming the county's individual champion.
"It feels really good. It's a huge confidence booster, and it just gives me the encouragement to keep on working hard," Cruz said.
Trish Butler said her girls team "didn't look as impressive as we should have," noting that the time gap between the finish of her No. 1 and 5 runners was greater than she'd like. Still, it was a dominant showing.
"Our main goal was to try to stay together and work as a team," Schloss said. "I think we did a pretty good job of keeping together."
"We tried to work off each other's energy like we do in practice," Rischar said.
Added Braynon-Moore: "There's room for improvement between now and states."
Led by Butler, a junior, the Raiders' boys team was able to overcome injuries to two key runners — Manny Velasquez, who didn't run Friday because of a stress fracture, and Joey Moss, who started but didn't finish because of a knee injury.
Last year's BCAA boys champion, Andrew Iglesias of Pembroke Pines Charter ran Friday despite not competing the past four weeks because of a leg injury, and the layoff affected his performance. He finished 22nd with a time of 18:23.47.
Penaranda, who said he only started running cross country 10 months ago, carried the torch as Pines Charter's top runner, and nearly matched Iglesias' feat from last year. Penaranda wasn't officially credited as finishing second, however, because he accidentally wore the race bib number of a teammate.
That, coupled with getting nipped at the line in part because he tripped on Butler's foot trying to go around him in the final few meters, made it a tough afternoon for Penaranda. Still, it didn't dampen his enthusiasm about his performance.
"I'm pretty proud," Penaranda said. "For two weeks already, my whole mindset was to win this. I had no intentions of losing. I always imagined myself coming across the line in first. But this is still a big finish for me. I'm happy."
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