With top runner Emma O’Day away on a recruiting trip, Boca Raton High School freshman Katelyn O’Brien surprised many as she finished third overall in the recent King’s Academy Invitational in West Palm Beach.
The 14-year-old O’Brien ran 19 minutes, 40.10 seconds as she recorded her second consecutive Top 5 finish in a cross country invitational this year. She clocked a personal best 19:15.70 in the Park Vista Cobra Cross Country invitational in August.
“I felt good; I just wanted to go out there and run my hardest,” said O’Brien, a Boca Raton resident. “So far, I am pretty happy with what I have been doing. I just want to keep getting better.
“Honestly, I am always trying to get my best time and improve with every race,” she said. “When the season is over, I want to run a sub 19 (minutes), preferably an 18:30. I want to run and go all the way to states and help my team get there.”
She didn’t run cross country or track in middle school. O’Brien is a basketball player.
“When I got into high school, I said I wanted to run cross country,” she said. “I hadn’t really run outside of elementary school, so I am happy I chose to run, and I am going to do both sports.”
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O’Day, a senior, owns the county’s fastest time of 18:42, which she also recorded at the Park Vista meet.
“It is absolutely amazing running with Emma,” “O’Brien said. “I have a goal of someone to keep up with and at the same time, I have someone who can mentor me and show me what she has done to be as awesome as she is.
“She is always telling me to take my easy runs easy and my hard runs hard,” she said. “She said to really try and get your best run on your hard workout day and I want to put that approach into my own training.”
King’s Academy junior Avery Fronrath completed the 3.1-mile layout with a time of 19:17.40 to take the girls’ individual title. The King’s girls completed the sweep winning the girls’ team title with 75 points. South Fork’s Addison Boyer was second with a time of 19:30.00.
Boca Raton sophomore Sofia Kaynor was 23rd (22:33.10), sophomore Gem Granofsky was 38th (24:07.30) and sophomore Sofia Robbins was 42nd (24:17.20). All cracked the top 50 in the meet in helping the Bobcats finish eighth overall with 163 points, just 10 points behind rival Spanish River.
King’s Academy, which won the boys’ team title with 49 points, had three runners finish in the top five, led by winner Colton Lawson (16:56.37).
Boca Raton senior Connor Brooks was sixth with a time of 18:16.40, while junior Ryan Vladimir (18:43.70) was 12th to help the Bobcats to a fifth-place finish with 127 points.