By Gary Curreri
Sun Sentinel Correspondent
Oct 22, 2021 11:39 AM
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The Spanish River High School boys’ and girls’ junior varsity cross country teams swept the Palm Beach County Championships recently at South County Regional Park in Boca Raton.
The Sharks boys team totaled 34 points to double up Jupiter (77). Boca Raton (86) was third, while FAU High School (101) and St. John Paul II Academy (211) were fifth and eighth, respectively.
“I am really proud of our consistency year after year,” said Spanish River coach Doug Horn. “Our varsity and JV boys both won their eighth straight county championship.”
Boca Raton freshman Michael Homan won the boys’ JV race with a time of 19:25.6. Spanish River ninth-grader Kyan East placed second (19:37.7), while Boca Raton freshman Colin Villacorta Melo (20:02.3) finished third.
Spanish River freshman Logan Damle (20:47.6) placed fifth, while FAU High School sixth-grader Tor Amundson (20:49.0) was sixth, and Boca Raton sophomore Luke Benstein (21:02.0) was seventh. Spanish River runners rounded out the final three spots in the Top 10 as freshman Aidan Nadler (21:04.9), junior Jase Zheng (21:17.7) and freshman Juan Blanco (21:33.3) finished eighth through 10th.
“This is a testament to the culture that our parents, coaches and athletes have worked hard to establish,” Horn said. “Anyone can win a one-off championship, but to do it year after year takes effort. However, the pressure grows heavier every year to develop bigger shoulders to carry the tradition. JV runners have to commit and work hard to become the next group of varsity runners.”
The Spanish River girls scored 19 points to easily top Jupiter 40 points, Atlantic (76) and St. John Paul II Academy (100).
Spanish River freshman Jacquie Levine won the girls’ JV race as she clocked 22:58.6. FAU High School runners claimed the next two spots as eighth-graders Maddie Kunz (23:52.0) and Maiya Castillo (24:23.7) were second and third, respectively. Spanish River senior Olivia Schlesinger (25:26.4, 4th), freshman Connelly Wallace (25:49.5, 5th) and sophomore Danya Leon (26:04.6, 6th) took the next three spots. Jupiter High runners were the next four finishers before Sharks’ senior Antonia Shugar crossed the finish line as their fifth runner with a time of 26:49.4.
Horn said given the fact that there has been no middle school running competition the past two years — in 2019 (weather) and 2020 (due to COVID-19) — he said it was gratifying to have his runners go on and eventually become varsity runners.
“The loss of two years of middle school track and field had a very significant impact on high school cross country,” Horn said. “Middle schoolers who were often introduced to running through track never got a chance and the impact will be felt for a few years. Despite the impact, we had a terrific group of girls who were in great need of a team opportunity. We were glad to have them be part of our great tradition of winning teams.”