Cross Country: Perez Eyes LCS's Mutz At County Meet
Fri. October 28, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. | By Polk Preps Staff
By BILL KEMP
LEDGER MEDIA GROUP
HAINES CITY | Once Jose Perez makes a commitment, it's a strong bet he's not going to budge in a different direction.
The Haines City cross-country star qualified for the state meet two years ago after finishing 11th at the Class 3A, Region 2 meet held in Wesley Chapel – but he decided not to attend due to a prior engagement.
"I had some church obligations," Perez said.
One year ago another runner introduced Perez to Experla socks and now the senior runner will don no other brand on race day.
"They just feel cushiony and different. I have to wear them when I'm racing. It's a game-day thing," Perez said.
Perez also gave up the sport he loves most – soccer – after his sophomore season when he realized running could provide him an avenue for an education.
"I run for the purpose of going to school," he said. "Once I saw I had talent in running, I chose to give up soccer and go to college."
Now Perez finds himself coming down the stretch run of his senior season, and his commitment is to finish in the top three at the 3A state meet on Nov. 19. Last year he finished 13th, and all but three of the runners that finished ahead of him have graduated.
But before Perez can prove he's the third best runner in Class 3A, he wants to prove he's not the second-best runner in Polk County. He'll get that opportunity at today's county meet scheduled at Lake Region when he hopes to finish ahead of Lakeland Christian star Mark Mutz.
Perez (15:37) finished second to Mutz (15:34) at last weekend's Jim Ryun Invitational. Two weeks ago Mutz also finished ahead of him at the 5K Pre-State Invitational in Dade City.
"Technically, this is my last race against Mark, so I'm just really trying to prepare myself for this race," Perez said.
Landon Schneider (16:22.32.) finished third at Jim Ryun leading the George Jenkins to the team title. The Eagles placed five runners in the top 18 last week and will be favored to win the team competition today.
On the girls side, look for Lakeland Christian to finish strong after winning the Jim Ryun meet, including individual champion Mallory White (18:53.69) and third-place finisher Rebecca Eaves (19:49.61). Lake Region's Jessica Ortiz (20:09.55) finished fourth.