Hard work pays off for Holy Trinity runners


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Holy Trinity's top runners, Carly McNatt and Matthew Allen, have gotten off to a good start this season and are ready to challenge the state's best.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

An influx of young talent and some hard work during the summer already is paying off in a big way for the Holy Trinity boys and girls cross country teams.

Sophomore Matthew Allen already has beaten his best time from last season by three minutes and eighth-grader Carly McNatt has the third-fastest overall time in the state.

“Last year, I just went for it and ran every race like it was my last race,” McNatt said. “I tried to embrace the pain as much as I could and tried my hardest at every race and worked hard.”

That work would result in a sixth-place finish at the Class 1A state meet last year for McNatt, who is looking to win it all this season and has shown every sign so far that she will be a legitimate contender for the gold.

There is plenty of talent behind McNatt, including the lone senior and team captain, Sasha Wiechecki Vergara, in the No. 2 spot. Braelyn Wahy is the Tigers’ No. 3 runner with the top remaining runners consisting of seventh-grader Ivy Knight, freshman Julia McNatt, eighth-grader Gabriela Shenbaum and seventh-grader Lani Watt.

“We’re looking for a top-three finish, which we think is very realistic, at state,” Tigers coach Anthony Sullivan said. “There’s some very good competition. Circle Christian, Oak Hall and Father Lopez are going to be (good).

“Circle Christian should win it single-handedly. It’s more of a race for second place at this point. They’ve got about a minute gap on the rest of the state. It’s one of those (situations where) we’re all trying to shuffle for that last trophy.”

The Holy Trinity boys team, meanwhile, is hoping to have a few individual — and hopefully the entire team — qualify for the regional meet.

Freshman Jack Riggs is the No. 2 runner behind Allen with eighth-grader Ryan Henderson at No. 3. That group is followed by eighth-grader Austin Olivas, sophomore Gregory Bouyoucas, senior Hari Dandapani and senior team captain Max Pagan.

Allen’s best time this season is 20 minutes, 43 seconds and he’s hoping to continue dropping time with a goal of eventually getting under the 20-minute mark.

Last year, he did not qualify for regionals, but after a summer that included a team trip to a camp in North Carolina, he’s expecting much bigger things this season, not just for himself, but for his teammates as well.

“I’ve improved by three minutes from last year,” Allen said. “I’m ranked sixth right now in the district and I plan on making it to regionals.

“Hopefully, our team can do well enough so that we can all make it to regionals, which would be a big step forward for our team.”