CROSS COUNTRY: Charlotte claims 6th place at Regionals to qualify for States

By Chuck Ballaro, SunCoast Sports

ESTERO — Charlotte’s girls cross country coach Chris Robishaw smelled a rat.

His team had just finished seventh Friday at the Region 3A-3 championship at Estero Community Park, one spot out of qualifying for the state meet, but something didn’t add up.

He was right, an alternate runner for Robinson inadvertently tripped the timer while cheering on her teammate to the finish, accidentally giving it an eighth runner. Their points were adjusted to allow the Tarpons to jump ahead and claim the final state slot.

What were just a few minutes earlier tears of sorrow tuned into tears of joy for a team that was competing without its top runner.

Katie Kanagy bawled as she learned her Tarpons were going to Tallahassee after all.

“We were pretty heartbroken, but now, it’s all worth it. We all worked so hard and everything worked out,” said Kanagy, whose time of 22 minutes, two-tenths seconds topped Charlotte. “Kyle Shirley told us what happened and I told him to shut up. But it was true and I couldn’t believe it.”

Robishaw said he sensed something was wrong. Boys coach Chris George, who is on the jury of appeals, brought the matter to their attention, looked at it, and made the right call to adjust the scoring.

“When I looked at the results, I saw eight runners for (Robinson). When you see that, it’s a red flag. You’re allowed seven runners,” Robishaw said.

The flap would’ve been rendered moot had top runner Isabella Coogan been able to perform. Coogan suffered a stress fracture at the Venice meet and after running at half-ability in the district meet was forced to shut it down for the season.

Fort Myers easily finished first with 40 points, Naples was second with 107 and Osceola was third with 135.

Kristin Gear of Fort Myers overtook North Fort Myers’ Kayla Easterly in the sand pit with 300 meters to go and pulled away to win individually with a time of 19:16.0.

For the boys, it was tough sledding for the area teams as Port Charlotte and Charlotte finished near the bottom of the team standings.

Port Charlotte, with most of its runners on the tough Estero course for the first time, finished 15th in the 19-team field. Coach Ray Chumbley said it was difficult to train for such a course.

“I tried to prepare them, but we don’t have the hills or sand. We did the best we could with what we had to work with,” Chumbley said.

John Perez Dunn was the top Pirates finisher, with a time of 18:30.1.

Charlotte, running in its ninth straight regional meet after getting through on a tiebreaker in districts, was second from the bottom, led by Shirley’s 18:50.2.

“To be here all these years and have it be team first, I’m proud of these guys,” George said.

Region 3A-3 Championship
At Estero Community Park
Team standings
1. Fort Myers 40; 2. Naples 107; 3. Osceola 135; 4. Estero 170; 5. Clearwater 183; 6. Charlotte 193; 7. Cape Coral 206; 8. Robinson 220; 9. Gulf Coast 242; 10. King 268; 11. East Lake 285; 12. Venice 299; 13. Palmetto Ridge 299; 14. Freedom 310; 15. Riverdale 313; 16. Palmetto 386; 17. Gaither 411.
Top individuals
1. Kristin Gear (FM) 19:16.0; 2. Kayla Easterly (NFM) 19:22.9; 3. Jennifer Lima (EL) 19:49.1; 4. Fiona Kurland (FM) 20:08.2; 5. Micaela Torres (KNG) 20:10.7; 6. Parker Valby (EL) 20:12.7; 7. Taylor Stone (OSC) 20:14.3; 8. Chelsey Oliver (RIV) 20:30.5; 9. Jillian Dempsey (NAP) 20:42.4; 10. Alayna Goll (EST) 20:52.0.
Charlotte: Katie Kanagy 22:00.2, Brittany Smith 22:30.1, Alexa Roughton 22:35.4, Mackenzie Flowers 23:10.9, Natalie Ressel 23:18.5, Sydney Rodetsky 23:19.0, Victoria Simeone 23:51.6.

Team standings
1. Estero 47; 2. Fort Myers 83; 3. Naples 86; 4. Robinson 151; 5. Gulf Coast 158; 6. East Lake 170; 7. Jesuit 234; 8. Northeast 247; 9. Osceola 276; 10. Cape Coral 315; 11, Barron Collier 329; 12. Venice 330; 13. Ida Baker 338; 14. Clearwater 359; 15. Port Charlotte 375; 16. Freedom 377; 17. King 381; 18. Charlotte 386; 19. Brandon 563.
Top individuals
1. Evan Babatz (FM) 16:58.6; 2. John Robbins (JES) 17:19.1; 3. Arye Beck (EST) 17:20.1; 4. Hugh Brittenham (EST) 17:32.8; 5. James Hasell (EL) 17:33.2; 6. Ethan Geiger (ROB) 17:33.9; 7. Cormac Gilmore (CLR) 17:37.3, 8. Austin Peel (NAP) 17:42.3; 9. Jordan Russo (BC) 17:43.1; 10. Evan Williams-Jirkovski (EST) 17:46.4.
Charlotte: Kyle Shirley 18:50.2, Colby Spencer 19:45.8, Troi’Kari McClary 19:46.6, Noah Lamborn 20:03.4, Jensen Desguin 20:13.6, Samuel Asperilla, 20:21.8, Jake Lille 20:57.8.
Port Charlotte: John Perez-Dunn 18:30.1, Michael Balseca 19:17.1, Jean Ronald Bateau 19:57.1, Carson Baras 19:58.9, Zachary Catron 20:48.6, Kaden Weitsel 20:48.7, Thomas Brown 22:06.7.

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