Jim Ryun Invitational Challenges Big Field
Sun. September 16, 2012 at 3:04 a.m. | By Solange Reyner
Trinity Prep's Daniel Salas, left, and Holy Trinity's Julie Wollrath won the individual boys and girls races respectively on Saturday. (Photo by RICK RUNION | THE LEDGER )
By SOLANGE REYNER
LAKELAND | The Jim Ryun Invitational, held at Holloway Park Saturday morning, was the first race for many Polk County cross country teams this season.
And what a toughie it was.
"It better get easier after this race," said Ridge Community senior Shaquille Williams, who competed in his first cross country meet ever Saturday. "This was pretty difficult and that sand was so soft."
Williams posted a time of 23 minutes, 19.50 seconds and finished in 208th place, his time, like many, significantly slowed because of the course's difficulty.
The soft sugar sand, the long hill climb at the 2-mile mark and the numerous turns, including the final hairpin loop around the final 100-meter stretch, factored into the higher marks.
Two Lakeland athletes were the top Polk County finishers on the girls and boys side. Jonathon Hulzebos finished 26th in 18:14.40 and Victoria Jung 30th in 22:34.10.
"It was really, really sandy," said Trinity Prep senior Daniel Salas, the first place finisher on the boys' side who posted a time of 16 minutes, 42.60 seconds. "I just kept slipping in the sand and that hill at the 2-mile mark was a loose, sandy climb. Even the finish was tough. I couldn't start kicking until the 80-meter mark because of that turn and the soft ground."
Holy Trinity's Julie Wollrath placed first on the girls side in 19:18.60. Salas' personal best in the 5K is 15:43.87. Wollrath's is a 17:20.16.
But the course was enjoyable because it was unlike the courses many runners compete and practice on throughout the regular season: It's an actual trail.
"I thought it was a great experience," McKeel 8th grader Morgan Bush said. "We'll probably start running here occasionally when the park opens up to the public."
Added her teammate, junior Shelby Bridges: "It's a good training course. The more you run these the easier it'll get."
Bridges finished in 26:06, Bush in 26:49.
Missing from the action was last year's winner on the girls' side, Lakeland Christian senior Mallory White. Coach Mike Musick said she was out sick and that his No.2 runner, Hannah Warren, also sat out because of minor injuries.
"We're not ready for a big race yet, period," Musick said. "But I'm impressed with this course. There's no repetition and my runners really liked it."
White had run the course two times prior to the event, but not many athletes knew much about it since the first race on Friday, when collegiate and middle school athletes ran it.
The Winter Haven coaches ran it early Saturday morning to pass on notes.
"We did it so we could tell the kids what it was like," Lisa Hurtz, the first-year boys' coach said. "I was at 32 minutes so I was pretty happy with that."