By Vinnie Portell, Sun Correspondent
It had been nearly a year since Charlotte High School cross country runner Isabella Coogan could race for her school.
After suffering a stress fracture to her tibia in October of 2016, she opened her junior season on the right foot Saturday morning by placing first among girls varsity runners at the Lemon Bay Invitational.
The stress fracture sidelined her for last year’s postseason competition, leaving Coogan devastated and unable to finish her season. She spent the following several months training on her bike or running in her pool, pushing herself through the monotonous workouts by pretending she was already back to doing what she loves — racing for her school.
Saturday, she finally didn’t have to pretend anymore.
“It feels so good to be able to come back,” Coogan said. “I’ve been working so hard over the summer. I couldn’t run for three months because it was a really bad stress fracture. It was really hard for me not to do anything, so I had to cross train, I had to bike, but it’s not the same at all. And when you start to run again, it’s really frustrating because you’re so much slower. It just feels good to be back to where I was before.”
Though she began the morning nervous and hopeful that Saturday’s inclement weather would hold off her return to running, Coogan said she was pleasantly surprised at taking first in individual times and also helping the Tarpons take second as a team for girls varsity runners.
Her time of 19:29 was 51 seconds faster than the next closest competitor, but her performance was one that Tarpons coach Chris Robishaw said he has come to expect.
“She’s waited a long time for this,” Robishaw said. “It was good to see her get out there and I know she’s waited close to 11 months just to compete in a high school race again. I know she was happy coming in first, she did that a few times for us last year. She’s one of the most gifted runners in the state and last year she was one of the top two or three in our district.”
Fort Myers High School took home first place for both the girls and boys varsity races, beating Charlotte by 4:55 in the girls race and beating Naples High School by 2:18 in the boys race.
Maddison Welch of Lemon Bay had a strong performance through the puddles and mud on Saturday, finishing fifth in the girls varsity race with a time of 20:55. Even with her top-five finish, Lemon Bay took 10th place as a team for girls varsity.
On the boys side, the Manta Rays came in 13th place, with their fastest runner, Henry Finck (19:34), finishing 34th overall.
Port Charlotte took fifth place as a team for boys varsity thanks in part to a fifth-place finish for John Perez with a time of 17:35.
Lemon Bay Invitational 2017
- Fort Myers 44; 2. Naples 71; 3. Dunbar 91; 4. Venice 172; 5. Port Charlotte 201; 6. Sarasota 205; 7. Cape Coral 240; 8. Lely 243; 9. Riverview 249; 10. Bishop Verot 272; 11. North Port 283; 12. Charlotte 312; 13. Lemon Bay 390; 14. LaBelle 395; 15. Clearwater 418; 16. Southeast 459; 17. DeSoto 470; 18. St. John Neumann 474; 19. Bayshore 497; 20. Cardinal Mooney 501; 21. North Fort Myers 569; 22. Sarasota Military Academy 612; 23. Imagine 626; 24. Canterbury School, 631.
- Nick Carpenter (Ft. Myers), 17:22; 2. Kyle Skinner (Ft. Myers), 17:27; 3. Brady Gibson (Naples), 17:32; 4. Reese Novella (Ft. Myers), 17:35; 5. John Perez (PC), 17:35; 6. Ralph Claude (Dunbar), 17:56; 7. Dylan Clark (Naples), 17:59; 8. Alan Romero (Sarasota Mil), 18:22; 9. Orlando Ciciloni (Sarasota), 18:23; 10. Bryan Markovich (Cape Coral), 18:31.
- Fort Myers 50; 2. Charlotte 106; 3. Naples 117; 4. Gulf Coast 135; 5. Cape Coral 144; 6. Sarasota Riverview 181; 7. Lely 181; 8. Canterbury 182; 9. Venice 244; 10. Lemon Bay 247; 11. LaBelle 281; 12. North Port 296; 13. Bishop Verot 317; 14. St. John Neumann 382; 15. North Fort Myers 385; 16. Clearwater Central Catholic 410; 17. DeSoto 478; 18. Cardinal Mooney 556; 19. Gateway Charter 580.
- Isabella Coogan (Charlotte), 19:29; 2. Fiona Kurland (Ft. Myers), 20:20; 3. Caroline MacKenzie (Ft. Myers), 20:21; 4. Jessica Edwards (Canterbury), 20:53; 5. Maddison Welch (LB), 20:55; 6. Cheyenne Young (Cape Coral), 20:56; 7. Jillian Dempsey (Naples), 21:13; 8. Ryenn Hart (Lely), 21:22; 9. Kelsey Miskimins (Cape Coral), 21:28; 10. Terra Ehrhart (Riverview), 21:31.