At this point of the season, the Lely girls cross country team is adept at rolling with the changes.
Before the season even started, the Trojans learned that last year’s top runner Ryenn Hart, was moving with her family to Boston. Hart’s younger sister also would have been a big-time contributor on this year’s team.
Leading up to Friday’s Class 2A-District 12 meet at Bishop Verot, the Trojans weren’t sure what they’d get out of sophomores Alexandria Detheridge and Maria De Clercq, who had both missed most of the week with illnesses.
The rest of the Lely team stepped up, with sophomore Ellie Poling’s sixth-place finish helping the Trojans take second as a team and advance to this week’s regional event in Lakeland on Friday morning.
“Going into the meet, I really wanted to break 22 minutes, and I did that by almost 20 seconds (21:43),” Poling said. “I wanted a top-10 finish and hoped we could advance as a team. And with a few of our runners sick all week, I think we did a great job.”
The Trojans landed an impressive eight runners in the top 20, including the recovering Detheridge (14th) and De Clercq (20th).
“I just told them to run the best they could and to not overdo it or anything,” Lely coach Mark McGarity said. “They really did a nice job, considering they missed most of the week.”
Sarah Nemeth was the other top-10 finisher for the Trojans, taking ninth with a time of 22:25.
The Lely boys also advanced to the regional meet, edging Dunbar by four points to finish second. Anthony Alvarez (6th, 17:14), Quentin Warren (10th, 17:44) and Michael Poling (15th, 18:10) led the way for the Trojans.
“We’re very happy with how both the boys and girls teams did,” McGarity said. “Now the real challenge comes this week. The course in Lakeland has a lot of long, gradual hills, so we’ll have to be ready for it.”