When Canaan Meester-Kitterman changed his training routine last summer the goal was to maximize his performance at the state cross country meet.
The Bayshore High standout proved that strategy to be wise move when he finished sixth in the Class 2A state cross country meet on Saturday in Tallahassee.
Making his third trip to the state meet, the senior easily turned in his performance finishing in a time of 16 minutes and 7.09 seconds (16:07.9). It far exceeded last year when he ran a 16:28.41 to finish 44th overall in the Class 3A race.
"The change in training helped me with my speed and running this same course last year was a help," Meester-Kitterman said. "I was able to strategize the course a lot better. Last year, I attacked the hills. This year, I focused on surging when I got near the top of the hill and didn't get tired as much."
Never miss a local story.
Meester-Kitterman was hoping to finish in the top three. He had his eye on Leonel Delacruz from Immokalee who won the race and beat him at regions when they finished first and second respectively.
"The race kind of went the way I expected. I was hoping to get third place, but it isn't like sixth is horrible, a lot of kids would like to have that," Meester-Kitterman said. "I tried to stay behind the lead pack and my plans was to out-kick them at the end. But they outdistanced me in the last mile. I was exhausted. Looking back at my career, I have no complaints. I am going home to sleep, that is my celebration."
Missing one of their top runners who was at the school's volleyball match, the Lakewood Ranch girls finished 14th after placing fifth at regions and fifth at last year's state meet.
Julia Ortiz led the girls placing 46th with a time of 19:46.63 for the 3.1-mile race. The top five for Lakewood Ranch also included Emily Wray (72nd overall, 20:19.81), Michelle Last (86th, 20:35.46), Sara Kelly (114th, 21:04.95) and Emily Perez (139th, 21:32.58).
The Mustangs were missing their No. 2 runner, freshman Andrea McDonald, who placed 22nd overall at the region meet last week,
"Things kind of went how I expected. I feel good. This is one of those years where we are rebuilding and establishing things," Lakewood Ranch girls coach Kristina Bratton said. "We are trying to see how these girls train. Once everything starts to vibe, we will see where we are at. I am not concerned about our 14th place finish. Next year, it will be more of a concern."
After barely getting out of districts and then regions, the goal for the Lakewood Ranch boys was to better their 20th place finish at last year's state meet. And keeping with meeting their razor-thin goals this season, the boys eked their way to 19th place.
"Our goal was to finish under 20th and we were able to do that," Lakewood Ranch boys coach Bryan Thomas said. "I think we had an excellent season. We lost our number two runner from last year, and we were not sure if we would be able to make it back to state. Our guys ran good today. Not a lot of teams had PRs (personal bests)."
As expected, Mitch Arnold led the Mustangs, finishing 61st overall with a time of 16:46.76. The other scorers for Lakewood Ranch were George Dabbiero (80th, 16:56.02), Josh Napier (117th, 17:42.28), John Rivera (128th, 17:49.13) and Dorsey Griffin (155th, 18:21.96). Last year, Arnold finished 86th with a time of 17:03.26.
"I gave it all I had, and I am happy with the results. I bettered my time and my place from last year. The course was slow so my personal best didn't happen today, but it was a good season," Arnold said.
Cardinal Mooney received stellar performances from its top runners, Grace Casagrande and Cal Davidson-Tuner, in the Class A race.
Casagrande finished fith overall with a time of 18:36.11, and Davidson-Turner was eighth, crossing the finish line in 16:28.67.