Viera boys win showdown with Belen Jesuit, girls impress at Spanish River Invitational

Members of the Viera High boys cross-country team pose on the podium at the Spanish River Invitational. The Hawks, ranked No 2 overall in the state, placed three runners among the top six finishers and edged out No. 1 Belen Jesuit. The Viera girls placed fifth overall and Brooke Gerrits had the top time in Class 4A.

The Viera High boys and girls cross-country teams both turned in statement-making performances at the Spanish River Invitational meet in Boca Raton on Saturday.

The event, which was held over two days, featured competition in Class 1A, 2A and a combined 3A/4A race that matched the state’s top two overall boys teams.

Junior Brooke Gerrits had the top finish among all Class 4A runners in the girls race for the Hawks and the Viera boys, well, they took back their No. 1 overall ranking in the state by edging out Belen Jesuit.

Senior Michael Toppi finished second overall, but set a new course record for 4A with a time of 15:08.68 that was just .53 off his personal best.

Cameron Raney set a new personal record by crossing the line 15:56.12, which put the Viera junior in fourth place. Senior Robbie Naberhaus also came in under 16 minutes (15:59.82) to give Viera three runners among the top six finishers.

Senior Josh Ingalls had a huge day, placing 15th overall and setting a new PR of 16:13.9 in the process. Junior Aedan Rendek also had a PR with a time of 16:20.45, which put him 20th.

Other top runners for Viera included Jack Girard, who was 22nd and set a Viera freshman record with his personal best time of 16:32.61. Senior Riley Burrup also ran his best time (17:38.99).

That gave the Hawks the win over Belen Jesuit 42-45.

Viera’s boys had started out the season ranked first in Class 4A and ranked No. 1 in the state among all classes by, but had been overtaken by Belen Jesuit (Class 3A) early in the season.

This result should put the Hawks back in the top spot.

“We beat the No. 1 team in the state, so we played a game of Ultimate Frisbee,” Toppi wrote in an email.

The two teams are expected to see each other again at the Pre-State meet in Tallahassee next month.

While it was certainly a huge weekend for the Viera boys, the Viera girls put on quite a performance themselves.

The Hawks finished fifth overall in the team standings, second among Class 4A teams in the meet.

Gerrits was sixth overall individually, but her time of 19:40.07 was a second off her PR and was tops among the Class 4A runners.

Junior Isabella Narvaez was 12th overall in 20:09.91. She was followed by senior Danielle Contreras (21:38.45) and junior Trinity Trett (21:56.03).

The girls had a few personal bests, too. Junior Isabella Schiffer set her new PR (22:22.25) and freshman Maddie Helms ran 23:57.37.

Other top finishers for Viera included junior Chelsea Paglia (23:02.70) and junior Gabriela Shenbaum (23:48.89).

“I’m really proud of our girls team for coming in second,” Brooke Gerrits wrote in an email. “We all ran our best out there and it showed. I was definitely surprised when I found out that I came in first for 4A”

The Hawks will be off this week before heading to the New World Fall Spectacular in Jacksonville and what is expected to be another highly competitive event.

But as they proved at the Spanish River Invitational, they’re always up for a challenge.

“I knew this race was going to be a showdown,” Viera coach Samantha Gerrits said. “Belen Jesuit has a reputation of being the best and producing strong runners. I’m extremely proud of the way our boys rose to the occasion. They raced strategically and six of them ended up matching or exceeding their personal best.

“The girls had quite the competition as well. We’ve been working on our racing strategy and it is clear that it’s working. Coming in second was a great accomplishment and two of the girls ended up with personal bests. I couldn’t be more-proud of both teams.”