Newsome sweeps Don Bishop; Hertenstein continues dominance
The trend of four-team sweeps continues in Tampa Bay area cross country. Last week, it was Osceola taking the Mitchell Invite for a four-team sweep. The week before, it was Wiregrass Ranch sweeping all four races at the Land O'Lakes Keppel Invite.
On Saturday, it was Hillsborough County powerhouse Newsome making it a complete sweep, winning the varsity girls team title with 29 points to runnerup Robinson's 79 at the Don Bishop Invitational. The Newsome boys varsity squad scored a 38-87 win over Robinson with Plant City in third (91). The Wolves even took both JV races, the boys stamping the meet with a perfect score of 15. It was the third straight team titles for both varsity squads.
The girls went off first through the campus at Brandon High School where runners made a figure-eight pattern around the athletic fields and school while circling back through the football stadium and track. The course took two laps around the campus with the last 300 meters circumnavigating the asphalt track before finishing down the 100-meter straightaway.
Anytime Riverview sophomore Bailey Hertenstein is on the course, you can expect her to incinerate the field and that's just what she did on Saturday, sprinting out to the lead right from the starting gate and putting seconds, then minutes on the rest of the field.
Hertenstein ran an 18:02.40 to win the Flrunners Invite in Titusville a week ago and notch the top time in Florida up to that point in the season. On Saturday, Hertenstein "paced it out" for an 18:29.8, more than two minutes ahead of the second-place runner and shattering her 2014 meet record of 19:00.7.
"My plan was to set a decent pace," Hertenstein said. "From here, I just want to try and recover before the state series."
Hertenstein, the competitor that she is, couldn't resist striding out to the finish, even with no competition in sight.
"I always try to finish strong," Hertenstein said. "I want to feel at the end that I always tried my hardest. Even if it was a good time, if I didn't kick it out at the end, I'd feel like I had more left but didn't use it."
Hertenstein is approaching celebrity status locally, as she stops to sign autographs after her race.
The real battle was between Brandon's Eliana Ochoa and King's Micaela Torres for second place. After the first loop around the ball fields and school, Torres held a slight edge over Ochoa. Coming out of the football stadium for the second loop, Ochoa moved just in front of Torres. Coming back into the stadium for the last 300 meters, Ochoa put a move on Torres and separated, coming in second at 20:30.1 with Torres in third at 20:37.1.
"(Torres) stayed close to me the whole time and it made me nervous," Ochoa said. "I surged to try and get ahead and the last 300 (meters) I knew I had to just go all out to beat her."
Then the Newsome girls started coming in. Marcella Benner led the way in fourth (20:56.6), with Delsie Borgen in sixth at 21:29.9, Isabelle Guevara in seventh at 21:53.9, Katie Dunn in eighth at 22:05.7, and Juliana Tragakis in ninth at 22:08.8. Plant City's Hannah Stowe broke up the Wolfpack, taking fifth in 21:18.7.
Newsome girls coach Orlando Greene kept four of his top 10 runners out of Saturday's race as Newsome and all of the other area teams are gearing up for county championships and the state series. Newsome's pack mentality will make it a formidable opponent through county and districts.
Greene has a saying that goes, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go as a team."
The boys race offered a bit more intrigue as Durant's Haftom Fliegelman and Middleton's Daniel Dean led in the early going. Dean led coming into the stadium after the first lap but coming out of the second, Fliegelman took the lead position and Dean fell into a battle with Robinson's Dannys Marrero for second.
Fliegelman turned up the heat during the second lap and coming into the stadium for the final 300 meters, was comfortably ahead. Fliegelman kicked it out for a 16:41.5, with Dean second at 17:12.3 and Marrero close behind at 17:15.0.
"I knew I was going to have to kick it," Fliegelman said. "(Dean) was my pace setter for the first 2 miles but by then I felt like I had more energy and started to separate."
The Ethiopain-born Fliegelman, placed 15th in February at the Gasparilla Half-Marathon and won the freshman/sophomore Hillsborough County cross country meet in 2014.
And then it was Newsome. Tristan Vaira led the Wolves in fourth at 17:41.9. Next was Cody Caskey in sixth at 17:49.3, Michael Schram in ninth at 18:09.3, Michael Fuller at 18:11.8 and Alex Bugielski sliding into 12th in 18:14.0.
"They did a great job racing as a team, helping each other out," Newsome boys coach Brian Sears said. "They train, they work off of each other, if someone drops off, they talk them up."