Viera boys cross-county team wins first state championship in school history

Members of the Viera High boys and girls cross-country teams pose following the Class 4A state meet at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee on Friday. The Viera boys won the first state championship in school history while the girls team finished 15th overall. Viera senior Michael Toppi placed second individually, which is the highest finish ever by a Viera runner at the state meet.

They did it.

The Viera Hawks are your Class 4A boys cross-country state champions for the first time in school history after an incredible day at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee on Friday.

Viera, ranked No. 1 overall in the state, actually finished tied with Creekside, both with 104 points after their first five runners crossed the finish line.

The tiebreaker came down to the sixth runners on each team and Viera freshman Jack Girard’s 80th-place finish was 17 spots better than Creekside’s sixth runner, giving the Hawks the state championship.

“It was a close one, but we pulled through,” Viera senior Michael Toppi said in an email. “That’s all that matters. We’re state champs now!”

Toppi, who finished in 15:17, placed second overall individually. It’s the highest finish by any Viera runner – boy or girl – at the state meet in program history.

Viera’s girls, meanwhile, had a pretty good day as well. The Hawks finished 15th overall led by junior Brooke Gerrits, who came in 22nd with a time of 19:49.

“We have come a long way and I'm really proud of these girls,” Gerrits said in an email. “I know we can place higher next year so it gives us something to work toward.”

Winning a state championship had been a goal of the Viera boys team ever since last season when the Hawks came in second at last year’s state meet by just five points to Columbus.

Senior Robbie Naberhaus finished 10th overall for Viera in 15:58. Junior Cameron Raney was 13th in 16:01 and junior Aedan Rendek was 27th in 16:23. Senior Josh Ingalls was 71st in 17:03. Girard’s time as 17:13. Senior Riley Burrup came in at 18:09.

Following Gerrits across the line for the Viera girls was junior Isabella Narvaez, who placed 38th in 20:16.

Oher top Viera runners included junior Chelsea Paglia (21:26), senior Danielle Contreras (21:30) and freshman Maddie Helms (21:41). Junior Isabella Schiffer finished in 22:23 and junior Trinity Trett finished in 22:33.

“Our number one goal for the season was to make it to state,” Viera coach Samantha Gerrits said in an email about the girls team.

“They worked hard and were able to not only make it to state, they placed in the top half of the teams in 4A. They’ve laid the foundation for next year and we retain all but one of our top seven.

“I’m already excited to see what they can accomplish in the future.”

As for the boys team, well, it’s safe to say that it was a day everyone involved with the program won’t soon forget.

“These boys put in months of work for this day,” Samantha Gerrits wrote. “All of their hard work and patience paid off and they earned that trophy that they coveted so much last year.

“I’m thrilled for them to be the team that snagged Viera High School’s first cross-country state championship win. This is the start of a legacy and I look forward to retelling their story for years to come.”