MARCO ISLAND — There were no surprises Saturday when the Manatee boys and Gulfview girls won team titles in the Collier County Middle School Cross Country Championships at Manatee Middle.
Manatee Middle had a huge cushion in the win with five point-scorers finishing in the top 11. The team totaled 27 points; in second was East Naples with 74 and North Naples third at 106.
In a more competitive race, the Gulfview girls had to count its fifth runner, who came in 30th, which counts 30 points, as part of the team's 73-point total. The best finisher for Gulfview was Tyler Leon in sixth.
North Naples girls finished second with 99 points and Marco Island Charter Middle School was third with 105 points.
Marco Charter coach Roger Raymond said his team most likely would have come in second if one of his top five runners hadn't gone to a swimming meet.
The top two teams in each race qualified for the state race next month.
When it came to individual winners, Rosie Poling of Marco Charter, ran 11:34. She finished 1 minute, 10 seconds faster than Sarina Francis of North Naples in 12:44. Andrea Varges of Cypress Palm was third in 12:49.
For the second straight week, racing newcomer Jose Rodriguez of Manatee outlasted Josh Wagner of Marco Charter. Rodriguez won in 10:35, four seconds faster than Wagner. It marked only his second cross country race.
Securing the Manatee win with their finishes were Kevin Ulloa, third in 10:56; Luis Rubio, fourth in 11:07; Yosdany Rodriguez in eighth in 11:20 and Rugde Hippollite, 11th in 11:29.
In the boys' race, Rodriguez took the early lead, but Wagner took over halfway through the race. At the three-quarter mark of the 1.86-mile course, they were side-by-side.
That's when Manatee coach Justin Moomaw's strategy paid off.
First he told Rodriguez to run behind Wagner, forcing Wagner to battle the wind, then with 600 meters to go to start his finishing sprint.
"I told him (Jose), 'You don't want to have Josh hanging around near the end,'" Moomaw said.
Moomaw said his team is blessed with "a lot of God-given talent, but they also work extremely hard."
In the girls' race, it was as-expected because Poling, an eighth-grader, holds the county girls' cross country record.
More than 400 competitors, family members and friends attended the awards ceremony in the school cafeteria, giving Poling a standing ovation.
Melissa Williams, Gulfview's coach, said: "I told my girls we know Rosie will win, for us it is about working as a team. Our top five finishers each improved their times by 20 seconds."
Girls: Gulfview 73 points, North Naples 99, Marco Charter 105, Oakridge 111, Manatee 137, Immokalee 147, East Naples 151, Palmetto Ridge 161, Corkscrew 182 and Cypress Palm 244.
Boys: Manatee 27, East Naples 74, North Naples 106, Golden Gate 124, Gulfview 135, Marco Charter 147, Palmetto Ridge 147, Immokalee 166, Oakridge 263, Cypress Palm 299 and Corkscrew 305.
Top 10 individuals:
Girls: Rosie Poling, Marco, 11:34; Sarina Francis, North Naples, 12:44; Andrea Varges, Cypress Palm, 12:49; Monet Burkett, Corkscrew, 12:52; Claire Belfore, Oakridge, 13:01; Tyler Leon, Gulfview, 13:07; Julia Cartwright, Marco, 13:10; Meredith Rice, Palmetto Ridge, 13:13; Edith Bautista, East Naples, 13:24 and Rebecca Shakour, 13:24.
Boys: Jose Rodriguez, Manatee, 10:35; Josh Wagner, Marco, 10:39; Kevin Ulloa, Manatee, 10:56; Luis Rubio, Manatee, 11:07; Will McCann, North Naples, 11:10; Alex Bradfield, East Naples, 11:15; Peter Charles, Golden Gate, 11:17; Yosdany Rodriguez, Manatee, 11:20; Gerardo Cruz, Immokalee, 11:24 and Dylan Clark, East Naples, 11:25.