By Ed Scott, Sun Correspondent
VENICE – The sky was clear and the temperature relative mild. But more importantly, the terrain was flat and concrete abundant.
“We never have concrete in our races,” Charlotte High’s Isabella Coogan said.
Already accustomed this young cross country season to competing on hills and wet sand, area high school runners found conditions favorable in the 2016 Venice Invitational Cross Country Meet, Saturday at the high school.
Coogan, a sophomore, took advantage, winning the girls’ 5-kilometer race in a time of 18 minutes, 52.70 seconds. She finished 34 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor, Chandler Bergeron of IMG Academy.
Coogan pulled away about halfway into the race.
“I thought there was a girl behind me, really close the entire time,” she said. “But I always think that whenever I’m running. I wanted to get a good start because it was pretty tight. I got out well. Then I just let it go.”
Venice High offers the fastest course the Tarpons and other teams have run on this season.
“I was really excited to see what my personal progress would be,” Coogan said.
Coogan beat her 5K personal best by more than 30 seconds, a sentiment expressed by a number of top finishers.
The girls’ race began at about 8 a.m., and the boys’ race followed. Charlotte boys’ head coach Chris George said the temperature was much better than in previous races this season.
“That, right there, was a nice factor,” he said. “There’s a lot of asphalt on this course, so it’s flat and fast. Most of my guys had season bests, so that’s pretty good.”
Collectively, the boys and girls of North Port also took advantage — with both squads garnering top team honors for the first time this season. Kaley Boethig (20:20.50) placed fourth for the Bobcats girls, who had six runners finish in the top 16, while Louis Dietrich was fifth (17:12.20) to lead the North Port boys, who had five of the top 13 finishers.
Both North Port teams have been plagued by illness and injury so far this season.
“We’ve had some injuries and illnesses early, but everything just clicked today,” said girls coach Jen Reed, whose team had a runner-up finish in the season’s first meet at Lemon Bay. “We knew the potential was there, but it came together today. We worked well as a team.”
The North Port boys finally came out on top after a pair of second-place showings at Lemon Bay and in a meet at Bradenton.
“It seems like we’ve been missing two people every week for some reason,” said Coach Phu Nguyen, who mentioned missing one runner who overslept and missed the bus to the meet. “It’s always been something. Today, we had a full team and it felt good to see them together. they fed off each other and it showed, having that many guys so close together.”
Both Bobcats coaches also felt the course made a difference in their performances.
“Most of our girls had their best times so far this year,” Reed said. “The all finished within seconds of each other. It was a really fast course compared to others we’ve been on this year.”
Lindsay Boethig followed her sister in seventh for North Port while Darielle Acosta was eighth to round out the Bobcats girls in the top 10. Dillon Garrett was right behind Deitrich in sixth while Kevin Kapadia took 10th.
Chris Robishaw, head coach of the Charlotte girls, went into the race hoping for a first-place Tarpons team finish.
“I thought they all ran excellent,” he said. “This is our first … faster course. The last two races we ran very well on much, much tougher conditions.”
With conditions ideal, Robishaw told Coogan — in the week before the race — she needed to finish in under 19 minutes. Coogan laughed it off. Her goal was just to help the team as much as she could.
Four Tarpons girls finished in the top 10. Katie Kanagy placed sixth (20:58.30) while teammates Alexa Roughton and Brittney L. Smith crossed the finish line at the same time (21:20.00), placing tied for ninth.
“I’m very pleased with the hard work they’ve been putting in all season,” Robishaw said.
Twelve girls’ teams and 16 boys’ teams participated in the meet. Venice placed second in the boys’ team results. Charlotte was third, DeSoto 13th and Imagine School at North Port 15th.
The top finisher among Port Charlotte girls was Alden Goucher, who placed 25th (22:45.00). Bethany Heslam, head coach of the Pirate girls, said members of her team improved their times.
“We put in a really hard week of practice and it paid off today,” Heslam said.
The boys’ race was won by Andrew Csubak of Bradenton St. Stephens (16:39.60). Kyle Shirley of Charlotte placed eighth (17:26.60).
Sun Sports editor Rick Nolte contributed to this report.
Venice Invitational 5K Run
1. North Port, 2. Charlotte, 3. Manatee, 4. Venice, 5. Port Charlotte, 6. Southeast, 7. Wesley Chapel, 8. Braden River, 9. DeSoto, 10. Out-of-Door Academy, 11. Cardinal Mooney, 12. Zephyrhills.
1. Isabella Coogan, Charlotte, 18:52.70; 2. Chandler Bergeron, IMG Academy, 19:26.70; 3. Raquel Lespasio, Manatee, 19:52.10; 4. Kaley Boethig, North Port, 20:20.50; 5. Alison Ecker, Manatee, 20:37.30.
6. Katie Kanagy, Charlotte, 20:58.30; 7. Lindsay Boethig, North Port, 21:15.40; 8. Darielle Costa, North Port, 21:19.60; 9. Alexa Roughton, Charlotte, 21:20.00; 9. Brittney L. Smith, Charlotte, 21:20.00; 11. Thylan Le, Venice, 21:21.00; 12. Kayla Dennis, North Port, 21:22.70; 13. Emily Rumisek, North Port, 21:30.70; 16. Smith Alexis, North Port, 22:02.30; 20. Natalie Ressel, Charlotte, 22:16.10; 23. Shawna Slattery, Venice, 22:23.60; 24. Mackenzie Flowers, Charlotte, 22:41.70; 25. Alden Goucher, Port Charlotte, 22:45.00; 26. Hannah Robertson, Venice, 22:46.10; 28. Alexis Wheat, Venice, 22:56.10 3 22; 33. Sydney Rodetsky, Charlotte, 23:09.30; 36. Aubrey Kirsch, North Port, 23:29.40; 38. Brittany McGivern, Port Charlotte, 23:32.80; 39. Esperanza Gonzalez, DeSoto, 23:35.00; 40. Amy Quinones, Port Charlotte, 23:37.00; 41. Hannah Luff, Venice, 23:37.50; 42. Jennifer Lukowski, Venice, 23:43.40; 44. Anette Lupita Manriquez, DeSoto, 23:50.40; 45. Preetha Ramachandran, Venice, 24:01.30; 49. Isabella Reyes, Port Charlotte, 24:19.30; 58. Jocelyn Ramos, Port Charlotte, 24:56.30; 59. Kaylyn Castro, DeSoto, 25:02.00; 64. Victoria Ramirez, DeSoto, 25:24.60; 71. Tessa Paredes, DeSoto, 27:15.60; 77. Vianney Manriquez, DeSoto, 27:55.90; 83. Emily Smith, DeSoto, 29:00.20.
1. North Port, 2. Venice, 3. Charlotte, 4. Manatee, 5. Cardinal Mooney, 6. Wesley Chapel, 7. Out-of-Door Academy, 8. Evangelical Christian, 9. Sarasota, 10. Bradenton Christian, 11. Bayshore, 12. Braden River, 13. DeSoto, 14. Southeast, 15. Imagine School at North Port, 16. Zephyrhills.
1. Andrew Csubak, St. Stephens, 16:39.60; 2. Alan Romero, Sarasota Military, 16:51.30; 3. Patrick Dougherty, IMG Academy 16:56.30; 4. Dominic Moreno, Wesley Chapel, 17:03.70; 5. Louis Dietrich, North Port, 17:12.20.
6. Dillon Garrett, North Port, 17:20.20; 8. Kyle Shirley, Charlotte, 17:26.60; 10. Kevin Kapadia, North Port, 17:41.90; 11. Josh Lawson, Venice, 17:44.40; 12. Evan Weisberger, North Port, 17:47.50; 13. Charles Moody, North Port, 17:51.80; 17. Martin Calvillo, Venice, 18:12.80; 19. Ben Sweiderk, Venice, 18:15.50; 20. Troi Kari McClary, Charlotte, 18:17.60; 24. Austin Nicosia, Venice, 18:26.70; 31. Colby Spencer, Charlotte, 18:49.50; 32. Chazz Poutre, Venice, 18:50.10; 33. Jensen Desguin, Charlotte, 18:59.40; 34. Anthony Cavanaugh, Charlotte, 19:05.50; 35. Jeffrey Frias, North Port, 19:05.70; 38. Noah Lamborn, Charlotte, 19:10.50; 40. Javier Amaya, North Port, 19:16.60; 42. Michael Van Der Weert, Venice, 19:19.70; 44. Samuel Asperilla, Charlotte, 19:28.60; 45. Joshua Lafountain, Venice, 19:30.50; 50. Jake Lille, Charlotte, 19:39.30; 68. Luis Yacino, Imagine, 20:35.40; 70. Tanner Williams, DeSoto, 20:36.20; 73. Zachary Dalton, DeSoto, 20:40.30; 79. Kyle Garoutte, Imagine, 21:26.90; 81. Jaheim Smith, Imagine, 21:38.70; 89. Ashtin Meredith, DeSoto, 22:07.10; 90. Brian Sanchez, DeSoto, 22:09.70; 94. Juan Aguilar, DeSoto, 22:15.70; 99. Shane Neads, DeSoto, 22:31.40; 103. Aaron Harris, Imagine, 22:52.30; 111. Caleb McRae, Imagine, 23:30.00.