On a brisk day with the temperature in the high 50s, Belen Jesuit made history, winning its fourth consecutive Class 3A cross country state championship.
The Tallahassee, FL course was a mix of dry grass and gravel, said to be an ideal fit for the sport. The Wolverines finished with a score of 30 points, 95 points better than second-place Sunlake High School.
University of Florida commit and Belen senior, Javier Vento, recorded a first-place time of 15:22. Vento now becomes the second Belen runner to win two individual state championships, with his first coming in 2019.
“I felt alright,” he said on his performance. “It was definitely a grind going over the steep hill, what runners call the ‘wall’ twice. Mentally, I was confident and knew that all this pain was temporary. I knew that it would all be worth it at the end.”
As for his fellow teammates, senior Aiden Villasuso finished second with a time of 15:41. Diego Gomez would come in seventh, Adam Magoulas one place after him and Austin San Juan came in 18th place to round out Belen’s top five.
“[Covid-19] affected training, but not our mentality,” Magoulas said. “Our mentality never changed, Belen makes its runners into thinking about the goal of winning a state title 24/7.”
The junior was forced to compete with shin splits that forced excruciating pain throughout the race. Regardless, he gave it all he had in his arsenal.
“Personally I was in a lot of pain,” he said. “I had to run through an injury, but at the end of the day, the pain is temporary but the win lasts forever. So I felt bad during the race, but when it was all said and done, I felt great.”
If healthy next season, Magoulas will be a serious contender for an individual state championship. Additionally, he’ll compete in the 800m, 1600m, and 3200m events this upcoming track season.
This victory was also a historic milestone for Belen’s cross country coach, Frankie Ruiz, who broke the school’s 33-year state championship record once held by coach Brent Haley after capturing his 11th title.
For now, there’s no questioning that the Wolverines are the best cross country program in the state. They’ll look to continue that tradition onto track and field, primarily in mid to long-distance competitions.