Estero High School started the cross country season off on the right foot.
The Wildcats’ girls team took first place out of 36 teams, while the boys finished second in Saturday’s 3D Invitational at Estero Community Park.
“We always want to run against the best, which is why we invited all the big teams, but we thought the meet would only have five to 10 teams. It just took off,” Estero coach Jeff Sommer said.
“I told the kids that I went out and spent over $1,000 in trophies because I wanted everything first-class, and I told them that we better bring some of those back to Estero High School.”
The Wildcats had four girls in the top 10. Araceli Leon, of the three-time defending state champion girls’ team, took second overall. The boys had four in the top 20, led by Ricky Ledesma finishing as the top runner in Lee County with a 12th place finish.
“I was so happy with my team. All of our runners were up there,” Ledesma said.
“We’ve been working on getting out as a pack and hanging on together because cross country is not just about being an individual person, but instead coming together as a team and running together as a team and finishing together because together is how you win.”
The Wildcats had a crucial home-field advantage in both races after preparing extensively in the summer at the course that has a massive hill in the middle of the park and a volleyball sand pit.
“This is our training ground. We come over here and train. We do all of our practices here,” Sommer said.
“On Wednesdays, instead of running track workouts, we were here. On Saturdays, we were here working on the hills and the sand pit. The whole team wins here, as a team and as a family,” Ledesma added.
Emily Edwards, defending class 3A state champion in the 1600 meters and reigning News-Press All-area Cross Country and Track Athlete of the Year, took home first place for the girls with a time of 19:50.0. Edwards collapsed at the finish line. She was carried by volunteers to the care of EMS personnel.
“That’s never really happened to me before to that extent,” Edwards said. “I did not feel good, mentally getting across the line was the toughest part. The second lap was definitely more challenging because you are doing it again. The second time over the hill was tough.
“I’m definitely excited for the season though, my goal is to run strong and help my team run strong and just be successful.”
Fort Myers was the second best Lee County team in both races after finishing fifth in the girls divsion and seventh in the boys. Belen Jesuit Preparatory School was the overall boys champion.
1. Estero, 2. Community School of Naples, 3. Carrolton School, 4. North Port, 5. Fort Myers, 6. Lakewood Ranch, 7. Ida Baker, 8. Gulf Coast, 9. Doral Academy, 10. ECS.
1. Emily Edwards (Fort Myers), 19:50; 2. Araceli Leon (Estero) 19:59; 3. Devin Molloy (Barron Collier) 20:25; 4. Sarah Candiano (ECS) 20:36; 5. Bethany Jenkins (Estero) 20:46; 6. Lianna Farnesi (Doral Academy Charter) 21:12; 7. Lindsay Tomaini (CSN) 21:20; 8. Daley Cline (Estero) 21:22; 9. Sofia Maiguez (Carrolton School) 21:28; 10. Katie Slater (Estero) 21:31; 11. Maddison Krstec (North Port) 21:33; 12. Katie Wray (Lakewood Ranch) 21.33; 13. Megan Giovanniello (Ida Baker) 21:34; 14. Shelby Guttery (Fort Myers) 21:47; 15. Ekaterina Loshkareva (CSN) 21:49; 16. Sydney Guenther (North Port) 21:50; 17. Sydnee Russo (Barron Collier) 21:53; 18. Sarah Pederson (North Fort Myers) 21:54; 19. Elise Tutton (Estero) 21:54; 20. Andrea Vargas (Palmetto Ridge) 21:58.
1. Belen Jesuit, 2. Estero, 3. Lakewood Ranch, 4. Charlotte, 5. Immokalee, 6. North Port, 7. Fort Myers, 8. Ida Baker, 9. Golden Gate, 10. Cypress Lake.
1. Fabian Tomas (Belen Jesuit), 16:55; 2. Ryan Rodriguez (Belen Jesuit) 16:58; 3. Leonel Delacruz (Immokalee) 17:25; 4. Alex Pedraza (Golden Gate) 17:26; 5. Alex Issac (Belen Jesuit) 17:37; 6. Jaime Lopez (Belen Jesuit) 17:43; 7. Tyler Fisher (Port Charlotte) 17:51; 8. Mitch Arnold (Lakewood Ranch) 17:55; 9. Michael Magoulas (Belen Jesuit) 17:58; 10. Matthew Mullin-Garcia (Belen Jesuit) 18:02; 11. Kolin Ashbacher (Palmetto Ridge) 18:08; 12. Ricky Ledesma (Estero) 18:14.0; 13. Dillion Vallette (Estero) 18:23; 14. Frandy Cherilus (Immokalee) 18:28; 15. Jacob Dorn (Estero) 18:28; 16. Adam Sommer (Estero) 18:28; 17. Nicolas Roca (Belen Jesuit) 18:36; 18. Anthony Milana (Ida Baker) 18:38.0; 19. Tyler Kuhn (Charlotte) 18:44; 20. George Dabbiero (Lakewood Ranch) 18:45.