Cross country: Armwood wins districts
LAKELAND - Armwood High captured its first district title in cross country when the Hawks' boys team won Tuesday's Class 3A-9 meet on the Dover Horse Trails. Hawks coach Pete Mirones has enjoyed success at previous posts, including Gaither, where he guided a 1993 boys team to a state runner-up title in Class 5A. But in just his second year at Armwood, his squad has gone from fifth to first in the district. ''We've had this thing in our minds since June,'' Mirones said. ''They worked hard all summer, and now they're going to have to run even better next week at the regional if they want to get to state.'' The top three squads and first 13 individuals at Tuesday's meet qualified for the 3A-Region 3 meet, Nov. 9 in Estero.The Hawks got a big boost from the 2-3 finish of Mohammed Tamari and Jacob Rivera, while No. 3 man Kyle Green (10th) played a key role when he passed a pair of Brandon runners late in the 5-kilometer race. Julia Ramirez was 11th for Armwood, and its final scorer was 20th-place Kyre Kelly. The Hawks scored 46 points to defeat defending boys champion Brandon by 14. Strawberry Crest (63) advanced to regionals by taking third. The boys overall winner was defending champion Canaan Meester-Kitterman of Bradenton Bayshore, who finished in 17:04 to win by 55 seconds. In the girls meet, Brandon freshman Eliana Ochoa, the daughter of Eagles assistant coach and former area standout runner Tommy Ochoa, led her squad to a successful defense of its team crown. Ochoa won comfortably in 20:54, more than two minutes ahead of teammate Victoria Prenatt in second place. Brandon's other scorers were Lupe Espinoza (third), Megan Glover (fifth) and Dominique Jones (19th) to give the Eagles a team total of 30. That was 16 ahead of runner-up Strawberry Crest. East Bay also advanced by taking third in the team standings with 71 points. 2A-8: Gulf, Ridgewood qualify Gulf captured seven of the top eight places to roll to the Class 2A-District 8 title at Tenoroc High. Kari Grippo led the way by finishing first in 20:43.87. Teammate Eliza Gazda was second in 21:40.03. Led by Samantha Martinez's third-place finish in 21:41.96, Ridgewood finished second. In the boys race, Gulf's Nick Buliga took first in 16:26.58 to lead his team to the district title. Ridgewood finished third to also qualify for regions.