Cross Country warms up for states


photo by Lia Miller

The boys’ cross country team begins the Elite division race at the FSU Invitational in Tallahassee. Junior Jonathan Leon finished in 11th place and set a new city of Oviedo record at the meet.

On Saturday, the varsity cross country teams competed in the Florida State University Invitational. The boys’ team placed 11th in the Elite division while the girls’ team placed 23rd in Select. 

Top finisher junior Johnathan Leon not only came in 11th individually, but also broke 5K records for the school and city.

Both Leon and senior Miguel Pantojas placed within the top 60, with times of 15:28 and 16:05 respectively. Seven out of the 10 boys set personal records.

Getty called the improvements in performance “a good sign for things to come.”

The girls’ team was led by junior Alena Pezzoli, who placed 23rd with a time of 20:11, junior Kailyn David (21:32), and freshman Ava Howell (21:57). Pezzoli and Howell set personal records.

“I am proud of [my place], because I’m generally still getting used to being in the top of the races, as weird as it sounds,” Pezzoli said. “I’ve been given the opportunity of excelling with my team due to good coaching and good teammates.”

The course had many hills, the tallest of which is nicknamed “the wall” due to its extreme steepness. Getty, along with coach Tracy Lager, encouraged the runners to save their oxygen while going uphill, and instead speed up on the downhills to put more distance between themselves and tired competitors.

Getty said that the trip is something of a “trial run” for state finals, which will be held on the same course.

The team and coaches traveled to Tallahassee the day before the race, and spent the afternoon practicing the course and the evening bonding together.

“There’s something about being farther away from where you live…that I think is really special, especially getting to spend several hours with your team beforehand,” Pezzoli said.

Teamwork was a large focus for this meet, from the bus rides, to the afternoon and evening before, to cheering for each other at the meet.

“Confidence breeds confidence in both yourself and your teammates,” Getty said. “When you have good performances, it spurs them on to have good performances.”