Viera runners will look for improvement after season-opening meet


Viera High's Isabella Babilonia took beat the field in the Saturday's Viera Invitational Cross Country girls race by 1:12, but was disappointed in her finishing time of 18:36. Both Viera teams finished second in the fall sports season-opening meet.


The Viera High boys and girls cross country teams both came away a little disappointed in their performance at Saturday morning’s high school fall sports season opener, the Viera Invitational.

But that just shows you how determined both teams are to get ready for the postseason.

Isabella Babilonia won the girls race in a time of 18:36 … a minute and 12 seconds ahead of her closest competitor, but not close to the 18:13 she ran on the same course over the summer.

Michael Toppi was fifth in the boys race in 15:54, but the junior was disappointed he didn’t finish stronger.

“I definitely had the tools to run a great time, but I didn’t execute it perfectly,” Toppi said. “I wanted to run under 15:30. That was my goal. But my last mile wasn’t what I wanted it to be.”

The Satellite boys, ranked among the top cross teams in the nation, won the meet handily with Viera finishing second. The Scorpions swept the top four spots and had six runners place in the top seven, including a winning time of 15:14 by senior Gabriel Montague that is now the fastest time in the state.

Viera’s Robbie Naberhaus joined Toppi in the top 10, placing eighth in 16:25. Cameron Raney was 10th in 16:31 and Aedan Rendek was right behind in 11th place in 16:36.

Joshua Ingalls came in 14th for Viera (17:18) while Louis Schiffer was 16th (17:24). Other Viera finishers included Riley Birrup (18:31); Ben Gearhart (19:18); Matthew Naberhaus (20:16); Jason Lee (22:18); Adam Deforest (22:19); Calvin Presecan (22:47); Jake Gander (22:55) and Jacob Gelman (23:03).

Babilonia, meanwhile, was never challenged in the girls race. The senior took the lead right from the start and ran by herself for the entire race … quite a difference from earlier club races this season when the boys and girls ran together.

“Today, in short, was not what I wanted,” Babilonia said. “I wanted to go for at least 18 flat. Obviously, I was off by a lot. So today was really not a good day.

“I think it was just pre-race nerves. I’m pretty sure this is my last home meet, so there were a lot of expectations as far as representing my school for the first time (this season). That kind of was at the back of my mind.

“Other than that, I did my best to hold pace. That got me here at 18:36. I guess the one thing I can take away from this is I just need to improve more. We’re going to go work harder at our workouts now. We’ve still got a way to go for our season. There’s plenty of work to be done.”

Isabella Narvaez was Viera’s next-highest finisher, coming in sixth in 20:16. Chelsea Paglia crossed the line in eighth place in 20:46. The Hawks took the 10th-12th place spots behind Alexa Baker (21:05.08), Danielle Contreras (21:05.51) and Brenda Lee (21:07).

Viera’s Allison Gerrits was 14th in 21:35 and right behind her was Sakura Stolaas with a time of 21:46.

Elena Fentress finished 18th in 22:14 and Brooke Gerrits made it 10 Hawks in the top 20 by crossing the line in 22:19.

Other runners for Viera included Isabella Schiffer (23:02); Rebecca Devoid (23:24); Jasmine Camacho (23:43); Liliana Box (26:32); Pharren Aehle (28:40) and Alyssa Blood (29:11).

Viera coach Scott Baker’s assessment of Saturday’s race was pretty much in line with the comments made by his top two finishers.

 “I don’t think they had their best race today, either one of them,” Baker said. “They both ran about 20 seconds quicker a month-and-a-half ago on the same course under worse conditions.”

That being said, Baker believes both runners will get better as the season goes along and he has high hopes for the postseason for both of his teams. The regionals and state meet are both set to be held in November.