Hawks looking for strong finish at state meet


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Junior Andy Martinez (left) and sophomore Bryan Baker are two big reasons why the Viera boys cross country team is expecting to finish strong this season.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

It’s been a good season so far for the Viera Hawks boys cross country team.

But today will be a big test.

The Hawks, who are ranked among the top 20 teams in the state, will take part in the Pre-State Meet at Florida State.

“That should give us a good idea of where we stand,” new Hawks coach Scott Baker said. “We get to run against some teams we haven’t been able to face so far this season.”

Baker, who came to Viera after a two-year stint coaching at Holy Trinity, has had a big impact on both the boys and girls cross country programs at the school.

“It’s outstanding, because he’s such a good coach,” junior Andy Martinez said. “I haven’t had someone who knows that much about running.”

Although Hurricane Irma put a big dent into the team’s training program, which has also kept them from running on some of the area’s faster courses, the runners are confident they will get back in rhythm by the end of the season.

“I’d say give us another week or two and we’ll be good,” said sophomore Bryan Baker, the team’s No. 2 runner behind Martinez.

Scott Baker agreed with his son.

“The weather’s affected us quite a bit,” Scott Baker said. “We missed a couple weeks of training. It’s affected the times in races. The courses have all been wet.

“But we’ll be fine. I’m not concerned about it. We’re working hard and we’ll get to where we need to be.”

Other runners who have figured prominently for the Hawks this season include sophomore Tyler Mielke, senior Drake Baske, sophomore Cody Karl, senior Andrew Santiago and junior Jordan Sichler.

Martinez, who has run only three races this season, is setting his goals high. In addition to predicting that he will win the district and regional titles, Martinez thinks he can significantly lower his best time, which right now stands at 16:52.

“My goals are a little up there, way up in the clouds,” he said. “I’ll say 16:20, just put that.”

Scott Baker believes Viera’s boys team has a chance to finish in the top 20 – perhaps even as high as 15th in the state meet – while he projects the Viera girls could land anywhere within the 10-15 range.

While that would not be a program best finish for the boys (they were 11th in 2015), it would be the best the girls have done at the state meet and also represent a big leap for the program overall.

“I think the main reason (for the change) is we’ve had a complete change of attitude,” Scott Baker said. “It’s my first year with the team. I came from Holy Trinity, where we’re used to being successful. I tried to bring the same attitude here. The kids have really bought into the idea of working hard, and wanting to be good and wanting to be pushed.

“They’re also very talented.”