Holy Trinity cross country teams building for strong finish


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Holy Trinity eighth-grader Ivy Knight has emerged as one of the top runners on this year's girls cross country team.

CARL KOTALA

This year’s Holy Trinity boys and girls cross teams figure to be following the exact path any coach would want:

They’re only going to get better as the season goes on.

That’s particularly the case for the Holy Trinity boys team, which started off the season with a number of new runners who had never raced in a varsity meet before.

“We could have a very phenomenal finish to the season, because once everybody gets into shape, then I’ll truly be able to see what we have,” said Holy Trinity coach Anthony Sullivan following an early-season race.

Speaking after that same race, senior Brandon Assam also was high on his team’s chances.

“I think we can be really good,” Assam said. “We looked really strong this first meet, which was a lot better than last year. I think we have a good chance of pushing for states this year. Our top seven runners are really fast.”

Top runner Matt Allen had been battling some injury problems early on in the season, but returned to lead the team at last month’s Katie Caples Invitational with a time of 20 minutes.

He was followed by sophomores Will Bell and Jack Riggs, freshman Cassidy Werder, senior Ryan Mozer and a string of seventh graders — Zack Gunderson, Keaton White, Finley Werder and Thomas McHenry.

Holy Trinity’s girls, meanwhile, came into this season facing the prospect of having to replace last year’s Class 1A state champion — Carly McNatt (who transferred to IMG Academy) — as well as another top runner in Sasha Wiechecki Vergara, who graduated.

“Trying to replace those two is never going to be an easy task when they’re two of the top 20 runners in 1A,” Sullivan said. “We’re working to try to replace them and trying to push forward as a team, trying to work together as a team.”

The results early on have been encouraging.

Eighth-grader Braelyn Wahy has moved into the No. 1 spot for the Tigers, although at the Katie Caples Invitational, she finished third on her team behind Ivy Knight and Ava Knight.

Senior Charlotte Varnes was fourth for Holy Trinity in that race with eighth-grader Sophia Weiner, seventh-graders Natalie Morris and Valentina Velarde, junior Jaiden Martin, seventh-grader Janely Tavares and sophomore Julia McNatt all coming in next.

Despite the departure of two top runners, the Tigers figure to be in the hunt once again for a finish somewhere in the top seven of this year’s Class 1A state meet, which is set to take place Nov. 9 at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee.

“The team is actually going to be very good,” Wahy said. “We have a lot of strong, new seventh graders.”