Hawks win boys title, girls second at Viera Invitational

Holy Trinity boys and girls teams have encouraging performances


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Members of the Viera High boys and girls cross country teams pose with their medals and trophies after Saturday's Viera Invitational The Viera boys won the team event while the girls finished second. Holy Trinity's girls finished fourth.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

There were plenty of encouraging signs for both the Viera High and Holy Trinity cross country teams at Saturday morning’s Viera Invitational 5K race.

Viera’s boys got a third-place finish from sophomore Michael Toppi and had four runners finish in the top 16 to win the team competition.

Viera’s girls, meanwhile, got a strong performance from freshman Isabella Narvaez and finished second despite missing their top two runners due to injury.

“I was pretty happy,” Hawks coach Scott Baker said. “It’s hard to tell sometimes until you look at the numbers later, but it seemed like it went pretty well overall.”

Holy Trinity, meanwhile, finished fourth in the girls competition and had some good individual performances.

“We did pretty good,” Holy Trinity coach Anthony Sullivan said. “We’ve got a lot of new runners, so getting the new runners acclimated to how a cross country race actually works was definitely one of the things we wanted to do.

“We had two seventh graders really step up in the JV race – Natalie Morris and Valentina (Velarde). They were 1 & 2 for the girls JV, so it looks like they’re both going to earn themselves a varsity spot.”

Viera’s boys may only have one runner – Colby Karl -- who took part in last year’s state meet, but they looked like they will be strong contenders to get back there again this season.

Toppi finished in a time of 16:40 and was followed in the top 16 by Karl (17:28) and Robbie Naberhaus (17:31), who finished 11th and 12th. Cameron Raney finished 16th in 17:40. Louis Schiffer placed 24th in 18:15.

“I feel like I ran pretty well today,” Toppi said. “I was just trying to hit the right time, to get the right place and show what I could do for the guys. I was happy with my time.”

Other finishers for the Viera boys on Saturday included Michael Shenbaum (18:36) in 37th place, Joshua Ingalls (18:52) in 44th and Navarre Solomon (18:58) in 48th.

With the Viera girls missing their top two runners – including defending district and regional champ Isabella Babilonia – because of injury, the Hawks needed to rely on their depth, and they needed someone to step up.

That’s where Narvaez came in.

The freshman turned in a time of 20:45 to finish in fifth place.

“I think I ran good,” she said. “My goal was just to improve my time. This was my third race of the season, my third 5K race, and I improved my time by 11 seconds.

“I think I pushed myself as far as I could go, so I was really proud.”

Julia Svartstrom placed 12th for Viera in 21:44 and Elena Fentress was 13th in 21:59. Chelsea Paglia came in 16th in 22:14. Gabriela Shenbaum made it four Hawks in the top 20 with a time of 22:22 that put her 19th.

Danielle Contreras finished 22nd in 22:35 and Madison Hagee was 24th in 22:37. Alexa Baker placed 30th in 23:15. Kaitlyn Thurner came in at 24:55 and Jasmine Camacho finished in 25:15.

Holy Trinity’s Brandon Assam, the only returner from last year’s boys team, was encouraged by his team’s performance on Saturday.

Cassidy Werder was the Tigers’ top finisher, coming in at 21:35. He was followed by Will Bell (21:45), Zackery Gunderson (25:26), Austin Olivas (27:29), Keaton White (27:52), Joshua Williams (31:49) and Assam (34:15).

“We looked really strong this first meet, which was a lot better than last year,” Assam said. “I think we have a good chance of pushing for states this year.”

With last year’s Class 1A girls state champion, Carly McNatt, having transferred to IMG Academy and No. 2 runner Sasha Wiechecki Vergara graduated, the Tigers are in a bit of a rebuilding mode.

Fortunately, they have a lot of talented, young runners to lead the way.

Three eighth graders finished in the top 20 for Holy Trinity.

Braelyn Wahy finished 10th Saturday with a time of 21:07.  Ava Knight was 14th in 22:01 and Ivy Knight was 20th in 22:25.

Another eighth-grader, Sophia Weiner, was 34th (23:31) while sophomore Julia McNatt was 50th in 24:33 and sophomore Georgia Rydson came in at 24:42. Junior Jaiden Martin had a time of 24:53 and senior Angelina Berthiaume finished in 27:29.

“I felt like I was really good at the start,” Wahy said. “I was feeling like I went out too fast, but I ended up going a lot better than I thought I would. I almost hit 21:00 flat.

“Hopefully, the next time we run a Viera race (on Sept. 28), I’ll be hitting 20:45. That’s what my goal is.”