The Bartow High School cross country team has kept a busy schedule in their last month of competition, but the schedule doesn’t get easier from here on out. The harriers have already competed in a couple of huge meets and there’s another one on the horizon.
Two weeks ago, the Bartow team made the trip to Gainesville to compete in the University of Florida Cross Country Invitational. The massive field saw two chutes of runners merge from the starting area, leading to crowded positioning. The experience allowed some of the Bartow runners a chance to understand how to work through those situations without losing pace.
Last weekend, the boys and girls teams took part in the Jim Ryun Invitational, which was held at Holloway Park in Lakeland. More than 60 teams were on hand, including high school and middle school age groups. With each team putting seven runners into the field, staggered by five minutes per group, there was plenty of competition. Bartow’s teams finished 13th and 17th in the running.
A meet against Lake Gibson this week will serve as a tune-up for the upcoming big events that remain on the schedule. Bartow will be a part of the 2013 Disney Cross Country Classic on Oct. 12. The event, which will be held at the Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World, will feature teams from throughout the United States and Canada in the high school division. There will be collegiate and middle school competitions as well.
Bartow’s boys are entered in a field that includes 95 other teams. Two of the squads are from Canada, but American teams are coming from as far away as Missouri, Ohio, New York and New Jersey. Polk County teams include George Jenkins, Kathleen, Lakeland Christian and Ridge.
On the girls side, things get even bigger. A total of 104 teams had entered by earlier this week with teams from Canada joining in as well as squads from California, Massachusetts and Missouri. There will be 45 teams from outside the state of Florida in the competition.
After competing at the Disney event, Bartow will have little time to get ready for the annual county meet. Polk County teams will gather at Holloway Park on Oct. 19 to match up for bragging rights on the 2013 season. From there, district competition looms with running starting on Oct. 24. The 2013 districts will be held at George Jenkins High School. Bartow’s team is composed of few seniors in 2013 and holds promise for years ahead as the competition experience expands.
The 2013 girls team includes seniors Hannah Fitzhugh and Heather Ryan. Sarah Stearns is the lone junior on the squad. The sophomore class includes five members – Abisola Adeyemo, Haley Fitzhugh, Simone Gable, Riley McDaniel and Abbie Tamayo. Kailyn Sampson and Morgan Hopper are the freshman runners. Hopper topped the Bartow team with the best effort in the Jim Ryun Invitational.
Daniel Minterr is the lone senior and ran the second best time for the squad during the Ryun event. Ryan Daniels is the solo junior on the team. The sophomore class is the biggest with six competitors – Jarred Fassett, Carlos Lopez, Charlie Manalo, Andrew McCoy, Antonio Sullivan and Dylan Yerba. The three remaining members are freshmen – Seth Katenkamp, Jose Martinez and Jordan Stewart. Martinez was team leader with a 19:19 run in the 5k Ryun race.
Justin Martin and Ledarion Jones provide the coaching for the 2013 teams.