Fort Myers High School hosted the Optimist Cross Country Invitational on Saturday which, although in its 35th year, underwent a big change.
“There are 43 schools here and last year there were only teams in the low 20s,” Fort Myers boys coach Yancey Palmer said. “And the numbers started growing once teams started confirming, so we thought that the old starting line wouldn’t be big enough, and we decided to move the start to the soccer fields.”
One thing that didn’t change, however, was the result for Estero as it took home the girls team crown and finished second in the boys race for the second straight year. The Wildcats girls finished with three runners in the top six.
“I was happy with the girls,” Estero coach Jeff Sommer said. “We have to solve a few problems, but all in all my kids competed and I’m very happy with them.”
A week removed from finishing in second place in the Estero 3D Invitational, Wildcats senior Araceli Leon won the girls race.
“I just really wanted to do a good job and be better than last week,” Leon said. “Just staying up there more and picking it up at the end was crucial today.”
Fort Myers’ Emily Edwards, who finished first at Estero last week, took home second place.
“They’re both superior athletes and I imagine that they’re going to go back and forth a lot this year,” Sommer added.
“It’s really neat to see two kids that just get it on and give 100 percent.”
In the boys race, Tyler Bennett of Fort Myers finished in first place with a time of 16:03.7, a little more than 12 seconds ahead of the second-place runner.
“I usually get out pretty hard in a race and that’s usually my strategy — to just get ahead and hold on as long as I can,” Bennett said. “It was a great win. I’m trying to go undefeated this year, so winning the first meet is definitely a confidence booster.”
For Bennett and the Green Wave, it was their first race of the season. The third-place team finish made Palmer optimistic.
“They were just a little more focused because it was a home meet and we wanted to do well.” Palmer said.
“This is a great first start for us.”
Girls teams: 1. Estero, 2. Sarasota, 3. CSN, 4. Fort Myers, 5 Lakewood Ranch, 6. Gulf Coast, 7. Lemon Bay, 8. Ida Baker, 9. Naples, 10. Cypress Lake
1. Araceli Leon (Estero) 19:28.4; 2. Emily Edwards (Fort Myers) 19:32.7; 3. Devin Molloy (Barron Collier) 19:36.4; 4. Grace Casagrande (Cardinal Mooney) 19:38.6; 5. Bethany Jenkins (Estero) 20.12.1; 6. Daley Cline (Estero) 20:15.3; 7. Sarah Candiano (ECS) 20:20.1; 8. Breeana Salcedo (Cypress Lake)20:22.5; 9. Megan Giovanniello (Ida Baker) 20:35.0; 10. Sage Lyons (Sarasota) 20:54.3; 11. Lindsay Tomaini (CSN) 20:54.4; 12. Sabrina Cavaseno (CSN) 21:01.0; 13. Sophie Berry (CSN) 21:12.5; 14. Samantha Davis (Gulf Coast) 21:12.9; 15. Sydnee Russo (Barron Collier) 21:17.4.
Boys teams: 1. Sarasota, 2. Estero, 3. Fort Myers, 4. Immokalee, 5. Naples, 6. Lakewood Ranch, 7. Venice, 8. Charlotte, 9. Admiral Farragut, 10. Ida Baker
1. Tyler Bennett (Fort Myers) 16:03.7; 2. Zackery Summerall (Sarasota) 16:16.1; 3. Adam Bradtmueller (Sarasota) 16:19.2; 4. Alex Pedraza (Golden Gate) 16:19.8; 5. Leonel Delacruz (Immokalee) 16:45.7; 6. Tyler Fisher (Port Charlotte) 16:50.6; 7. Dillion Vallette (Estero) 16:59.5; 8. Kolin Ashbacher (Palmetto Ridge) 17:01.5; 9. Garrison Kalvin (Naples) 17:02.3; 10. Cal Davidson Turner (Cardinal Mooney) 17:12.1; 11. Patrick McNamara (Admiral Farragut) 17:17.9; 12. Alyx Gonzalez (Gateway Charter) 17:18.8; 13. Mitch Arnold (Lakewood Ranch) 17:19.1; 14. Casey McCracken (Westminster Academy) 17:28.5; 15. Adam Sommer (Estero) 17:32.8.