Viera girls cross country closing in on first district title

Five talented freshman helping to lead way


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An influx of five freshmen, led by Alexa Baker (left) and Isabella Babilonia are a big reason why the Viera girls cross country team is on the verge of winning its first-ever district title.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

The Viera High girls cross country team could be on the brink of doing something it has never done before … and then some.

Following the addition of five talented freshmen and new coach Scott Baker, the Hawks are the favorites to win the Class 3A, District 13 championship at the end of this month.

And if they can do it, it would be the first girls cross country district title in the program’s history.

“That would be really interesting, because I don’t think a lot of freshmen make it to the district championship,” said Viera’s top runner, Isabella Babilonia. “It would be a really cool part of school history, a really cool thing to be a part of.”

That’s not the only goal the Hawks are looking at this season.

Baker, who came to Viera after a two-year stint at Holy Trinity, believes the Hawks have a shot at winning the regional championship, too, which would also be a first for the program.

“The strength of this team is the depth,” Baker said. “We have an unbelievable amount of depth. We have another four or five girls who could all be No. 6. It’s the deepest team I’ve ever coached.”

Running behind Babilonia is another freshman, Alexa Baker. The coach’s daughter said she has been bothered by pain in her legs early in the season, but is confident her doctor has discovered what is wrong and how to treat it.

“I believe if my legs are feeling better, I’m going to run so much better,” Alexa Baker said. “It will be such a relief.”

Senior Abbi Liddle, who qualified for the state meet last year, is Viera’s No. 3 runner, followed by freshman Abby Baker, freshman Alayna Thurner (who moved here from Indiana), freshman Elena Fentress, senior Claire Mitchell and senior Izzy Mossing.

Babilonia, who ran for Ascension Catholic School last year, has been quite a surprise for the Hawks. Last year, she was running in the 24-minute range for a 5K and now she is already running four minutes faster.

“She’s had a dramatic improvement, mostly just because of hard work and because she’s talented,” Scott Baker said. “It’s been nice. We knew she was going to be good, but we didn’t know she was going to be this good this soon. It’s been a blessing.”

The Hawks will take part in the Pre-State Meet at Florida State today, which should give them a better idea of where they stand against the top teams and runners from around the area and beyond.

The district meet is set for Oct. 28 at Bayside High. And if the Hawks can have a good day, they’ll make history.

“The Viera community is a great community,” Scott Baker said. “It’s an athletic community. It’s a running community. It’s full of successful people from all walks of life. When you get that opportunity to do something that’s never been done before, it’s exciting.”