By Donna Wong, XC mom

The Lake Minneola High School Cross Country Team ended their regular season with the girls placing 2nd and the boys placing 3rd at the Lake & Sumter County XC Championship held at East Ridge High School.

Freshman Alejandra Rodriguez sets the pace early – photo by Tasha Keller

Before the race, XC mom Mandy Cooke shared, “The weather is beautiful and the kids are ready to lay down some really fast times!”

XC dad William Thompson predicted, “It’ll be a great battle for Lake County supremacy among the boys and girls teams.”

Sophomore Raegan Krepcho strong at the finish – photo by Donna Wong

This battle was not just against fellow runners, but also the challenge from the ERHS campus terrain. ERHS’s hills always present a challenge for the runners and Saturday morning was no different. The biggest challenge to all runners is “the Green Monster,” a large hill within the 1st mile. Our HAWKS took on the challenge and showed their strength and determination!

Sophomore Ashlyn LeViner enters the finish chute in sixth place overall – photo by Donna

The girls placed four runners in the top 15 and all five scoring runners in the top 20! LMHS top runners, sophomore Ashlyn LeViner (20:52.97) and freshman Alejandra Rodriguez (20:59.02) stayed near one another for most of the race with Leviner edging Rodriguez by less than seven seconds at the end. Rounding out the top five LMHS runners were sophomore Raegan Krepcho (21:17.47), senior Sophia Reed (22:16.26) and sophomore Jocelyn Lee (23:18.66).

Senior Jackson Crossley edges his ERHS competitor by less than 0.2 seconds at the finish –
photo by Donna Wong

The boys race had a hot battle between 2nd place Mt. Dora (56 pts) and 3rd place Lake Minneola (61 pts). In XC, the low score wins and the points are based on the top five runners’ placements.

All five of the scoring boys placed in the top 16! Once again, freshman Quentin Thompson finished at the front for LMHS with a time of 18:57.77. Thompson finished seventh overall.

Just over 30 seconds and six places separated the rest of the boys’ scoring runners. Led by senior Jackson Crossley (11th place / 19:24.45), the rest of the boys stayed close as freshman Dayton Nasser (13th / 19:28.10), sophomore Grant Pautienus (14th / 19:38.95) and freshman Drew Sasson (16th / 19:58.65) were immediately behind.

Freshman Drew Sasson finishes strong for the HAWKS – photo by Donna Wong

With so many underclassmen, LMHS will sure be an XC force in the next few years!

After the race, Coach Christopher Harris said, “We worked as a team and ran hard. Everyone kept both feet on the ground. It was a great end to the regular season and it shows we have a strong team coming into the playoffs. And we have lots to look forward to in the years to come with the underclassmen making advancements that went beyond the coaches’ expectations this year.”

Coach Corey Isom said, “I am happy that we ended the season healthy. That’s what this weekend was for us. I’m looking forward to this post-season run.” “It has the potential to be a really great ending if all goes well,” Isom added. 

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