PORT CHARLOTTE — The Northeast and Osceola girls teams had much to celebrate Friday at the Class 3A, Region 3 cross country meet at the Charlotte County Sports Complex.
Both squads advanced to the state championships next weekend in Dade City after placing in the top six, while another local runner advanced with a top 15 finish.
Northeast’s girls braved the chilly conditions to finish fifth with 153 points behind Estero (33), Lakewood Ranch (68), Gulf Coast and Fort Myers (111 each).
Junior Amanda Spring led the Vikings with an 11th-place finish and a school-record time of 19:17.31. Sophomore Caroline Condon was 28th with a 20:27.98.
“The first mile was fast, the second, not so fast. The wind was strong in some parts; it helped and hurt us,” Spring said. “There were great runners today, so you had to fight for what you wanted.”
Osceola (177) advanced by four points over Naples and can thank Alexis Irwin. The senior district champion finished fifth (18:59.03) for a team that had five of its seven runners earn personal bests.
“That was what we needed. The whole team ran well from one to seven,” said Osceola coach Peter Eagleson. “We knew what Alexis could do. Everyone just did the same.”
Irwin was just happy to run against the best.
“I just wanted to stay with the lead pack and draft off them,” Irwin said. “There’s such a jump in talent from districts to regionals. It’s tough to be one of the better runners when there’s nobody to run against.”
On the individual front, Armwood’s Amber Duncan reached state on the strength of her 14th-place showing (19:42.79).
Class 3A-9 district winner Trixi Menge of Strawberry Crest was 21st (20:03.45).
Olivia Ortiz of Lakewood Ranch won in 17:49.21, six seconds better than Estero’s Kacy Smith.
Meanwhile, the area boys teams struggled.
Osceola finished eighth, with Adam Clarke leading the way in 29th (17:05.25).
Class 3A-10 district champion James Peyton Bock of Dunedin was 44th (17:36.24), while 3A-9 runnerup Brandon Duncan of Armwood was 65th (18:21.24).
Carlos Miranda of Palmetto Ridge won in 15:48.52. Fort Myers (57) edged Estero (72) and Naples (75) for the team title.