FROSTPROOF — McKeel did not have the top finisher in either the girls or boys races nor did it have the top finisher from Polk County in either race.
That didn't matter, however. What the Wildcats did have was the top team in each race as they won both the girls and boys team competition on Saturday morning in the Frosptroof Invitational.
The McKeel girls finished with 41 points to outdistance second-place Avon Park (53 points) by 12 points. Frostproof was third with 65 points.
"They ran great," McKeel coach Sean Packard said. "It was hot, it was muggy. They ran strong."
The Wildcats placed their top five runners in sixth through 11th place, led by eighth-grader Emma Nales-Torchio, who finished sixth in 23:21.90.
Megan Miller was seventh, Alayna Mann eighth, Carli Spivey ninth and Brooke Mason 11th.
"It's kind of where they're at and it helps, and that's how we won today," Packard said of how his runners were grouped together.
Avon Park's Emily Vargas won the race. Frostproof's Cristal Gomez and Gabriella Rybinski finished second and third respectively, and Bartow's Autumn Martin was fourth.
In the boys competition, Dustin White finished fourth in 18:37.77 to lead McKeel. The Wildcats easily won with 41 points as second-place Avon Park was far back with 72 points.
"The boys ran well," McKeel coach Ken Brady said. "They're dropping times a little each week. This is a slower course. We were hoping it to be a little faster to bring our averages up a little bit, but really, the heat and everything, it's pretty tough today."
McKeel had three more runners in the top 10. Hunter Borah came in fifth place, and Austin Nester and Caiden Sadler were ninth and 10th respectively.
Bartow's Jacob Nakamura was the top Polk finisher. He took second behind Avon Park's Dylan Branch, and Mulberry's Micah Kirkham was third.
Arias finishes 6th in St. Cloud
Haines City's Marckoz Arias ran 17:27.8 to finish sixth on Saturday morning as the highest finisher from Polk County in the boys race at the St. Cloud Invitational.
The only other runner from Polk to finish in the top 30 was Lakeland Christian's Seth Martinez, who finished 15th in 17:51.8.
Auburndale was 12th in the team competition out of 24 teams. Lakeland Christian was 15th, Ridge Community 17th, Haines City 20th and Lakeland 22nd.
In the girls race, Lakeland senior Sophie Valenti ran 19:57.2 to to finish 10th as the highest finisher from Polk.
Two other girls runners from Polk finished in the top 30 out of 159 runners.
Lakeland Christian's Sarah Bays finished 23rd in 21:38.4, and teammate Gretchen Caswell was 29th in 22:03.9.
Neither school had team points. The highest team finisher for the girls was Auburndale in 11th place out of 18 teams.