Senior wins his second straight individual title while Sarasota girls finish second

TALLAHASSEE

Ben Hartvigsen once again found the top rung of the victory stand at the Class 4A State Cross Country Championships. Only this time, the senior from Sarasota High enjoyed the company of his fellow Sailors in taking home the top prize.

Hartvigsen successfully defended his individual state crown, covering the 5K course at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee in 15:27.05, 12 seconds faster than his winning time as a junior.

And the rest of his teammates came through to give Sarasota its first state cross country championship in the school’s 106-year history.

“That was the most exciting part,” Hartvigsen said. “I have been running with these guys day-in and day-out. To see it culminate in this is great.

“I am so proud of them. I know how thrilled they are. It’s a great way to wind up my senior season.”

Junior Ryan Guendjoian was the next Sailor to cross the finish line in 16th place in a time of 16:23.91. Senior Sailor Alan Romero grabbed 18th place, followed by sophomore Orlando Cicilioni (39th), junior Shane Kilduff (44th), junior Adrien Zambaux (53rd) and senior Sailor Anthony Bilotta in 62nd place.

The Sailors won the team title with 84 points, comfortably ahead of Lutz George Steinbrenner in second place with 109. Lithia Newsome (123) finished third, Oviedo (176) was fourth and St. Thomas Aquinas rounded out the top five at 193 points.

Oviedo won the team championship last season when the Sailors finished fourth overall.

“Our guys stepped up and earned it,” Sarasota cross country coach John Stevenson said. “There was a lot of pressure on them. But they went out and performed.”

Hartvigsen finished more than 22 seconds ahead of Lakewood Ranch High senior Jonathan Reid in second place. Nehemiah Rivers of Tampa Wharton was third and Oviedo’s Angel Vicioso and Kayamo Galloway finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

“Ben killed it,” Stevenson said. “He went out really fast to break (Galloway) early. His first mile in 4:35 was 10 to 15 seconds faster than we had planned. At the second mile marker you could tell he was going to take first by 20 to 25 seconds.”

Led by senior Isabelle Jester in 16th place, the Lady Sailors finished second as a team in the Class 4A girls race. Tampa Plant was first with 118 points, ahead of Sarasota with 136. Newsome (157) was third, followed by Winter Springs (188) and Lake Brantley in fifth place with 201 points.

Sarasota sophomores Kasumi Wade and Marissa Kempf finished 27th and 28th, respectively. Sarasota junior Carolina Titus took home 41st place.

“The girls were lights-out,” Stevenson said. “They started believing in themselves and have become a cohesive group. I’m super-proud of them.”

Manatee High cross country coach Rae Ann Darling Reed also had plenty to be proud of on Saturday. Competing in Class 4A, Manatee High's Caroline Lehman capped off her tremendous freshman season with a sixth-place finish in 18:26.22.

Fellow freshman Melissa Weber finished 36th and Manatee senior Matthew Lyons snared 31st place overall.

Sending three kids to state was way beyond our expectations,” Darling Reed said.

Lehman added, “I have learned a lot since my first varsity race (a first-place finish at the Canes Cross Country Classic during the first week of September). I gained a lot of confidence.”

In the Class 3A girls competition, Port Charlotte senior Isabella Coogan finished 13th in a time of 18:56.7. Port Charlotte’s John Perez was 21st in the boys Class 3A race in 16:32.9.

The top area finisher in the girls Class 1A race was Out-of-Door Academy eighth-grader Maria Shaw in 15th place in 19:47.13. ODA seventh-grader Aubrey Robbins was 59th and freshman Hallie Monserez led the Cardinal Mooney contingent, finishing in 85th place.