Cross country team heads to state finals

The Okeechobee High School girls cross country team has qualified to compete in the Florida High School Athletic Association 3A state finals in Tallahassee on Nov. 9.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Tracy Sills
The Okeechobee High School’s Girls Cross Country team has qualified to compete in the state finals in Tallahassee. The team inlcudes (left to right) Iliana Boyer, Lauren Sills, Jasmin Saucedo, Leta Adamo, Jacqueline Jaimes and Lindsey Saucedo.

Jacqueline Jaimes and Lauren Sills finished strong to help the team to secure the eighth place spot overall in the regional meet and qualify for the state finals. Jaimes finished in 17th place with a time of 21:53.30, while Sills finished in 23rd with a time of 22:25.00.

The girls team edged out Suncoast by six points at the regional meet. In the district meet the week prior Suncoast had placed ahead of the Brahmans by eight points.

This is the OHS cross country team’s third time making an appearance in the state finals in the five years that coach Allen Mayernik has been at the reigns of the program.

Just advancing to regionals was an accomplishment in and of itself for the young cross country team. The program lost nine boys and three girls to graduation in 2019 and looked to be in for a year of rebuilding and gathering experience. But throughout the year the team has overcome any obstacles in their way and rise to the occasion.

One of those obstacles came early in the season when the team was in the beginning stages of practicing and getting in reps.

Mother Nature threw a wrench in the plan to bring a lot of the new runners up to speed. Daily thunderstorms in the afternoon during August forced the cross country team to practice in the hallways of Yearling Middle School to build up their endurance.

Okeechobee also had their district expanded in 2019, which meant more and tougher competition at their meets. In the newly reshuffled district, the top 30 individuals and the top 10 teams from boys and girls would qualify to go on to regionals.

But even with the increased competition, the Brahman runners made their way to the regional match.

To qualify for regionals the girls team had three runners finish as top 30 individuals, Jacqueline Jaimes, Lauren Sills and Lindsey Saucedo. All three finished with personal records.

The girls cross country team will compete in the 3A finals at 7:30 a.m. on Nov. 9 at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee.

The final will be streamed live online by NFHS Network. If you’d like to watch and cheer on the Brahmans visit www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/fhsaa/gamaa7d0893d1 at 7:30 a.m. on Nov. 9 to tune in.

Richard Marion is a staff writer and photographer at Lake Okeechobee News and can be reached at rmarion@newszap.com.

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