TITUSVILLE – Emily Edwards wasn’t quite sure where she was, in the general scheme of things, as she finished the girls version of the Race of Champions Saturday in the flrunners.com Invitational 13 cross country meet.
“I started a little too slow … and every once in a while kept second-guessing myself, but I kept telling myself, ‘You’ve got to have confidence,’ and I did,” she said after the race. “It just sort of came up on me and I didn’t realize how well I did until I passed the finish line.”
“Well” equaled first place, which the Fort Myers junior accomplished at 17 minutes, 43.80 seconds, ahead of Nikita Shah of Wiregrass Ranch (17:48.50), Julia Montgomery of Pine Crest (17.52.60), Bryce Seymour of Hagerty (18:00.80) and Kacy Smith of Estero (18.04.80).
Katy G. Solis, also of Estero, was eighth (18:28.90)
“Well” also describes how runners from the area fared at the two-day meet, one of the state’s biggest events of its kind, which hosted more than 4,600 competitors from throughout Florida.
Estero successfully defended its girls’ team title with 75 points and Fort Myers was second among boys with 126 points. Estero was fifth with 196.
The individual winner among boys was Carlos Miranda of Palmetto Ridge, at 15.07.90.
Two Fort Myers boys, Tyler Bennett (fifth, 15:33.10) and Ace Brown (sixth, 15:34.70) finished among the top 10, as did Buddy Gates of Naples, who was 10th at 15:46.
Miranda, who was challenged by Belen’s Avery Lopez (15:13.20) throughout the race, pronounced himself “elated” after his finish, a personal best time.
Daniel Salas of Trinity Prep (15:17.60), followed by Nicholas Morken of Niceville (15:31.50).
“I think I knew I had it down the stretch,” he said. “I saw no one ahead of me, so I figured I should run for a good time. I got it. I am more than satisfied. I am so excited.”
The Estero girls victory was especially rewarding, close as the team is.
“It definitely is a lot of fun to win a team championship again,” said Smith, who relaxed with her teammates and Estero’s trophy afterward.
“We got it last year and we wanted to come back and defend it; prove to ourselves that we could do it again. But we try to be humble about it. We’re in it together and there’s a lot of great competition out there.”
Bennett and Brown were so focused on cheering on their fellow Green Wave runners that they declined to speak after their finishes, but returned to converse about the race.
“It was really hot and humid out there, and I had some pain in my leg, which slowed me down,” Bennett said. “So I’m pretty pleased with my finish.”
Brown was equally satisfied: “It was a matter of just going out and doing my best and hoping for the best for our team.”
The grins remained on the faces of Miranda and Edwards long after their races ended.
“Oh my gosh, I am happy,” Edwards said.
“I’m satisfied. I’m excited. I am just so happy,” Miranda added.