State meet highlights include personal records set by NCT’s Barbee, Dahmer & Ryczek

NCT freshman Isabel Dahmer notched a rare personal record during the 44th FHSAA Class 2A State Finals Saturday morning in Tallahassee. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
Nature Coast’s Harrison Ryczek was first Hernando County runner over the finish line in the Class 2A State Finals in Leon County placing 84th in 17:41.64. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
CROSS COUNTRY

Lady Sharks place 18th,

sans No. 4 runner Lindo,

boys’ team places 23rd

By TONY CASTRO

HernandoSport.com

Nature Coast Technical’s 12 cross country runners – serving as Hernando County’s final representatives – returned home with three personal records from the state’s elite stage.

During Saturday morning’s Class 2A State Finals along the hilly 3.1-mile terrain at the Apalachee Regional Park, the NCT Lady Sharks placed 18th, out of 23 teams, while their male counterparts finished 23rd in the 24-team field.

Fort Lauderdale-Pine Crest Panthers

In the female 2A Meet, Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest Panthers topped perennial power Jacksonville-Bolles, 33-53. The Panthers placed four members among the top seven to the finish line.

In the 174-runner field, Tsion Yared, who finished as a state runner-up in 2016, won the state gold medal by over 19 seconds over Key West junior Nicole Matysik, 18:00.16-18:19.33.

Lady Sharks: 18th

Mia DeRonda

For the eighth consecutive meet, frosh Mia DeRonda led the way for the Lady Sharks placing 92nd overall with a 5K time of 21:13.56.

Keira Barbee

Junior Keira Barbee was next in 97th (21:23.90) followed by junior Aliyah Dipalma in 102nd (21:32.09), senior Emily Escamilla in 108th (21:37.53), freshman Isabel Dahmer in 141st (22:53.38) and sophomore Abigail Ball in 174th (30:02.50).

Despite the caliber of competition, Barbee and Dahmer each recorded personal bests.

Though fourth-year NCT mentor Eric Milholland wanted the Brooksville harriers to atone for the district and regional meet setbacks to Inverness-Citrus, the Golden Hurricanes finished 17th, one team spot ahead of NCT.

Isabel Dahmer

“Our No. 1 goal all season was to get to states, and we did,” noted Milholland. “We also wanted to beat Citrus, but they have four seniors. I’m a little disheartened that we didn’t beat them, but we lose one senior and they lose almost their entire team.”

Eric Milholland

On Saturday’s race, “Mia again was our best runner,” expressed Milholland. “But she didn‘t run her best. That’s okay, there are a lot of things we can tweak before next season. There‘s a learning curve here.

“I was really happy for Barbee and Dahmer, they each had PRs,” added Milholland. “Isabel even broke 23 minutes.”

Looking ahead toward next year, NCT will miss its captain, Escamilla.

“I hate losing her,” shared Milholland. “But we’ve got everyone else coming back, so the cupboard isn’t bare.”

Sharks: 23rd

Jacksonville-Bolles Bulldogs

In 2A boys’ race, Jacksonville-Bolles, which finished as state runners-up in 2016, won the state title by dominating Satellite Beach-Satellite High, 45-120.

In the 181-runner race, Bolles junior Charles Hicks solved his closest rival, Lake Wales senior Paul Stafford, 15:16.78-15:23.02, for the state gold medal.

For its efforts, NCT finished 23rd out of 24 teams, with 589 points.

The Brooksville thinclads competed sans junior Christian Lindo, who had a conflicting family commitment.

For the second consecutive meet, junior Harrison Ryczek paced the Sharks to Leon County finish line finishing 84th overall in personal-best 17:41.64.

In a year’s time Ryczek has shaved almost 2:17 off last season‘s best of 19:58.27.

After Ryczek, sophomore Ian Escamilla placed 109th (18:02.04), senior Lenny Iacopelli finished 134th (118:27.70), sophomore Gage Sugg in 168th (19:43.02) senior Mason Orellana in 169th (19:55.77) and sophomore Vicente Maglia placed 178th (21:25.50).

Zach Hall

First-year NCT mentor Zach Hall described the event, “The course was nice and conditions were fine. To me, it doesn’t matter that we lost to Citrus for the first time. It’s no big deal. We didn’t (No. 4 runner) have Lindo. Taking a step back and looking at our whole season, I’d give it an “A”.

Sighting the Sharks’ second-to-last place finish, “It’s boils down to a lack of experience for us in high caliber racing. We haven’t encountered meets like this where everybody is that good.

“Today the cards weren’t in my hands. We went into this year in rebuilding mode after three seniors graduated last year and we still managed to make it to states,” explained Hall. “Sure, I would’ve liked to have seen us run better.”

On Ryczek’s heroics, “He really put together a nice season,” noted Hall. “He was kinda our dark horse. After a few races he made up his mind that he didn’t like losing to Ian (Escamilla), so he kept pushing. He just made up this mind that he wanted to be up front.”

On the team’s future, “We’re gonna miss Lenny and Mason. We’ve had some questionable captains in the past, but Lenny had an a big impact with this team this year. This was Mason’s first year, but I’m really proud of how he ran.

“… I like where we’re at,” added Hall. “We’ve got a core group of five guys back, but I’m not sure who else we’ll get out for cross country next year.”

Harrison Ryczek

“The race was good,” described Ryczek. “It was a little bit hilly; it’s a lot hillier than in Brooksville. The key was I pushed as much as I could.

“… Getting a personal record at states is pretty good,” deemed the 16-year-old Ryczek. “It would have been nicer to finish better. The biggest lesson I learned was we’re not as fast as we think we are and we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

Like all the Sharks, this was Iacopelli’s for crack at states.

Lenny Iacopelli

“I had a good race,” detailed Iacopelli, 17. “It’s a nice course and the weather couldn’t have been better. My hips were destroyed, so I struggled the last two races. I’m happy that we made it to states. I have no regrets.”

In looking back, “I’m looking to college, I kinda wish I could come back and run next year,” noted Iacopelli. “It’s amazing how much things have changed for this team in just one year.”

NATURE COAST (589) – 84. Harrison Ryczek 17:41.64, 109. Ian Escamilla 18:02.04, 134. Lenny Iacopelli 118:27.70, 168. Gage Sugg 19:43.02, 169. Mason Orellana 19:55.77, 178. Vicente Maglia 21:25.50.

Nature Coast Technical Boys Cross Country

Team State Results (2003-17/15 Seasons)

Compiled by TONY CASTRO

 

YR.

 

COACH

 

PL.

2007

Merjanian, Armen

14th

2008

Merjanian, Armen

13th

2010

Milholland, Eric

20th

2011

Milholland, Eric

5th

2012

Milholland, Eric

13th

2013

Milholland, Eric

22nd

2014

Milholland, Eric

20th

2017

Hall, Zach

23rd

NATURE COAST (454) – 92. Mia DeRonda 21:13.56, 97. Keira Barbee 21:23.90, 102. Aliyah Dipalma 21:32.09, 108. Emily Escamilla 21:37.53, 141. Isabel Dahmer 22:53.38, 174. Abigail Ball 30:02.50.

Nature Coast Technical Girls Cross Country

Team State Results (2003-17/15 Seasons)

Compiled by TONY CASTRO

 

YR.

 

COACH

 

PL.

2012

Milholland, Eric

13th

2013

Milholland, Eric

14th

2017

Milholland, Eric

23rd

 

 

 

 

 

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