Viera cross country teams gearing up for strong showing at state meet

Viera High's Brooke Gerrits, left, and Michael Toppi are the No. 1 runners on this year's girls and boys teams. The Viera boys are considered the favorites to win the Class 4A state championship, while the girls expect to be competitive at the state meet.


They can envision themselves standing on the podium at the Class 4A state cross country meet in Tallahassee next month, gold medals hanging around their necks.

Yes, the Viera High School boys are that good.

“I definitely see a state championship this year and we’re trying to make it to nationals as well,” senior Michael Toppi said.

“… I really think we just have a group of guys that have been here since Day One. We’ve all been doing the same thing. We’ve been doing that for the past two years. We’re finally able to get the results that we want.”

The Viera girls, meanwhile, keep getting better as the season goes along and could be ready to surprise with a strong showing if they can earn themselves a trip to Tallahassee.

“I think we can go pretty far as long as we all motivate ourselves, push ourselves and do our best,” junior Brooke Gerrits said.

In other words, the Viera cross country teams are once again looking to show they’re among the best in the state.

First-year coach Samantha Gerrits takes over a program that has a number of seniors on the boys team, and a number of juniors on the girls side.

Brooke Gerrits has moved into the top spot for the Viera girls, who are eyeing a trip to Apalachee Regional Park on Nov. 12 for the Class 4A state meet.

Junior Isabella Narvaez is next, along with junior Chelsea Paglia; senior Danielle Contreras; junior Trinity Trett; juniors Isabella Schiffer, Rebecca Devoid and Gabriella Shenbaum and freshman Maddie Helms.

Viera had an encouraging performance at the Spanish River Invitational last month, finishing second among 4A teams.

“I think as we continue to do workouts and increase our aerobic capacity, they’ll respond well,” Samantha Gerrits said of the girls team. “I do believe they’re going to make it to state. Where we finish will be determined when we get there.”

At that same Spanish River Invitational, the Viera boys — ranked No. 1 in Class 4A — defeated Belen Jesuit, which came in as the state’s top-ranked team among all classes.

Viera should assume that No. 1 overall spot, which is why the Hawks are understandably confident they can win the state title.

Toppi, who hopes to finish in the top two individually, is Viera’s top runner. He’s followed by senior Robbie Naberhaus; junior Cameron Raney; junior Aeden Rendek; senior Josh Ingalls; freshman Jack Girard; senior Ben Gearhart; sophomore Mathew Naberhaus and senior Riley Burrup.

“The boys are extremely close,” Samantha Gerrits said. “They’re all very good friends and they all hold each other accountable. I think that’s the most important part for them.

“They know they can’t slack because their friends are watching.”