Video provided by Atlanta Track Club
In the first few nervy minutes of the boys championship race at the Wingfoot XC Classic on Friday in Cartersville, Georgia, it seemed like anything could happen.
A front pack of nearly 10 boys began to separate from the field on the winding Sam Smith Park course, with Huntsville's Jackson Harris moving into the lead early. But just before the mile marker, Pace Academy's Edward Blaha made a move.
He would hold on to it for another mile until Blessed Trinity's Benjamin Rothering laid down a hammer, nearly controlling the remainder of the race until the final last gasps. In the final sprint to the line, Holy Innocents' Episcopal Schoo's Joe Sapone grabbed victory, out-legging Rothering to win in 15:29.6.
The time was eighth-best in meet history.
Rothering followed a second later in 15:30.9, while Westminster School's Matthew Fernando was third in 15:37.8. Blaha would finish fourth in 15:40.5.
"I saw him off in this distance and I kept on hearing people telling him how far back I was," Sapone told the Atlanta Track Club afterward. "I had to take advantage of that, so I just put my feet to the ground and tried as hard as I could to catch up."
* Holy Innocents' Episcopal School's Joe Sapone celebrates after winning the boys elite race at the Wingfoot XC Classic
Photo Credit: Atlanta Track Club
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Mill Creek had three runners in the top 23, while Huntsville had two in the top 11 and three in the top 22 but did not mirror the depth of its competitor up top.