FALL ALL-AREA 2016: Boys Cross Country

THE DIETRICH FILE

Parents: John and Theodora Dietrich
Siblings: Konstantine and John
Future College: UCF,
Intended Major: Wants to study hospitality management
Age: 17
Food: Any Greek food
Musician: N/A

By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports

NORTH PORT — For North Port High School’s Louis Dietrich, the journey to the Class 4A state meet this season was a long and grueling one.

Before Dietrich ever made his way through the course at Appalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee in November, he found himself on an even more difficult road in his athletic career.

First, in his sophomore year, he suffered a stress fracture in his right foot that sidelined him for the entire season.

Then, midway through his junior season, he suffered another one, this time in his right foot.

Lots of thoughts raced through Dietrich’s mind, including one every coach dreads.

Quitting.

“After the second stress fracture I hit a low point,” Dietrich said. “I was really depressed for a while because I didn’t expect that to happen and it was just like ‘man, I’ve worked so hard. I came back from the first one and now I got to do it all over again?’”

But when the spring rolled around and track season began, Louis’ depression quickly turned to motivation.

“I started to think, I’ve got to get fast now. I’ve got to prove myself,” he said.

And so he did.

Dietrich bounced back from two stress fractures and was the only boys runner in the area to qualify for states in his senior season. He finished 40th in Class 4A with a time of 16 minutes, 53.79 seconds, just 0.39 seconds off of the personal-record he set at the North Port Invite earlier in the season.

His perseverance and performance on the track this season is why Dietrich is the Sun All-Area boys cross country runner of the year.

“It felt great [to make it to states] because that was one of my major goals,” Dietrich said. “I expected to go to states junior year with my team and then that got taken away from me because of the stress fracture so I knew I had to go this year. I just pushed all summer getting ready for cross country season and gave it all I had because I knew I had nothing to lose. It was my senior year so I put everything on the line and I’m glad with the result.”

Dietrich proved, not only to himself, but also to others, that he’s one of the fastest kids in the state. Besides the state meet in Tallahassee, Dietrich didn’t finish worse than 17th in a race this season and that came at the North Port Invite, where he posted his best time against top competition.

Turns out, that’s his favorite memory of his career.

“I was so happy that I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face because I knew I had broken 17 [minutes]. That was my first time ever breaking it so I was really happy with that race.”

Dietrich began the season with a second-place finish at the Lemon Bay Invitational and he followed it up with a 14th-place finish at the Bradenton Runners Club XC Invitational before winning the Fort Myers Hoptar Invite. But Dietrich only ran under 18 minutes at Lemon Bay and actually posted his worst time of the season at Fort Myers despite winning the race.

That forced North Port coach Phu Nguyen to sit down with Dietrich and set him straight.

“By that point I kind of had a talk with Louis because I felt that he should’ve been our top runner based on his strong track season and he was just kind of putzing around — he’d have a good race here, a bad race there, he actually missed the bus on one race — and I honestly had to sit him down and tell him ‘this is not how you’re supposed to finish your senior year. You’re just not that committed right now. You have other things on your mind and you’ve worked way too hard for this,’” Nguyen said.

“After that talk midway through the season, he just snapped.”

Dietrich nearly broke 17 minutes in his next race at the Venice Invitational, finishing fifth with a time of 17:12.20. Next was the North Port Invite, where Nguyen knew Dietrich was destined for a great season.

“The thing about that race was when I first saw him, he was in first place when I last saw him so I was really excited. Then I go sprinting down to the finish line with about 100 meters left to go and all of a sudden his teammate C.J. Moody was in front of him and I was like, ‘how did this happen?’ I was happy for C.J. for one, but I was shocked Louis was behind him. But then just as Louis is, he dug deep and outsprinted him. He actually beat C.J. by almost three or four seconds by just outsprinting him that last 100 meters.

“That just stuck out in my head how bad he wanted it…that basically sums up his desire for his whole career, his whole season and everything, that one moment right there.”

 

BOYS ALL-AREA TEAM

DILLON GARRETT, North Port, Senior
Garrett overcame cancer this season to get back on the course and he excelled. He ran a personal-best at the Dreadnaught Invite with a time of 17:16.39 and later placed 14th at districts with a 17:19.66 to move on to regionals, where he placed 43rd.

CJ MOODY, North Port, Sophomore
Moody ran a personal-best at the North Port Invitational with a time 16:57.30. He finished 16th at districts and 27th at regionals.

JOHN PEREZ-DUNN, Port Charlotte, Sophomore
Perez-Dunn ran a personal-best at districts with a time of 17:41.46 to place sixth. He went on to run at regionals, where he finished 37th.

KYLE SHIRLEY, Charlotte, Senior
Shirley ran a personal-best at the Venice Invitational with a time of 17:26.60. He also ran a sub-18 at the Flrunners.com Invitational and at districts, where he placed 11th to qualify for regionals.

EVAN WEISBERGER North Port, Senior
Weisberger ran a season-best on his home course at the North Port Invitational, crossing the finish line with a time of 17:30.90. He finished 24th at districts (18:00.47) and 50th at regionals (18:01.10).

Honorable mentions: Port Charlotte: Michael Balseca; Lemon Bay: Henry Finck, Tyler Morgan; Charlotte: Jake Lillie, Troi’Kari McClary.

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