Three seconds. That was the difference for the Holy Trinity boys and girls cross country teams from corralling an impressive sweep of individual state titles across the Class 1A landscape in Saturday’s FHSAA state cross country finals at Apalachee Regional Park.
Tigers junior Julie Wollrath snagged her third straight individual title, blowing away the field to lead the Tigers girls to a 14-point win over Gainesville Oak Hall. But Holy Trinity senior Andrew Cacciatore couldn’t quite catch Windemere Prep’s Franco Martins, settling for runner-up and a 40-point team victory.
“I’m pretty excited,” Holy Trinity coach Doug Butler said. “We haven’t done this since 2006. We’ve won seven boys and seven girls titles, but 2006 was the last time in the same year. That was the goal coming into the season to win both titles. I thought we had a chance for both individuals. Andrew ran a phenomenal race and came up just a few seconds short. But he left everything out on the course. Very good day.”
There was a pack of six girls at the two-mile mark, but once again Wollrath broke free of any challenger, winning in 18:14, eight seconds ahead of Shorecrest Prep’s Alexandra Eaton.
“I think I’ve just continued to train hard,” said Wollrath about maintaining her level of success. “I took off and tried to get as big a gap as possible and then just keep and maintain. It’s really nerve wracking trusting you can keep a lead. There’s always that fear that someone’s going to come up behind you and pass you. You have to keep going and not look back.”
Cacciatore found himself in a similar pack of four at the two-mile mark, but he had to keep up with North Florida Christian’s Griffith Rutherford and Martins as each made moves. But it was a marked improvement from ninth place a year ago and a drop of 32 seconds.
“I’m a little frustrated because I think I kicked too early,” Cacciatore said. “But I know I ran my heart out because just a few minutes ago, I was puking.”
Brevard Heat’s Emily Chapman ended her junior year in sixth place, while Holy Trinity runners Shelby Smith, Samantha Folio and Maleia Storum all finished in the Top 13. Trevor Kattenberg was the next Tiger to cross after Cacciatore, finishing fifth.
In the 3A race, Merritt Island’s Sarah Hammond finished 36th and teammate Nina Li was 42nd. The Mustangs’ Steven Cross earned a 10th place medal in the boys race. He finished one spot behind Melbourne’s Garrett Camps.
Across 2A girls, Titusville’s Claire Castillo got herself a medal with an eighth place result, crossing in 18:54.
“This being my senior year, I just wanted to go out as well as I could,” Castillo said. “I was ready to go out with a bang.”
In the 2A boys race, Titusville’s Xavier Walton put an emphatic end to his senior season with a runner-up finish to Immokalee’s Leonel Delacruz. Terriers freshman Mason Jones scraped out a ninth-place result, while Astronaut senior Drew Denson was 15th.
Walton’s time of 15:55 wasn’t quite enough to take down the proverbial favorite. But he did improve from 72nd last year after cramping during the race.
“He gave me a battle, I can truly say that,” Walton said. “In the first mile, I tried to save my energy. I tried to beat him, but he outkicked me at the end. I give him the props for that. Finishing second is a real honor, and leaves a good mark on my senior year. It can’t get any better than this.”
In the 2A boys team standings, Titusville placed seventh and Rockledge was ninth.