The Scoop: A Blitz Of Serious Times And Performances

The Belen Jesuit Boys Make Huge Statement With A Dominating Win, And A Few Records, At The Southern Showcase

Photo Credit: Spencer Cox

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Meet Results

What does a perfect day look like in cross country?

It would be hard to argue with the day the Belen Jesuit boys put together on Saturday at The Southern Showcase in Huntsville, Alabama. 

Not only did the No. 6 Wolverines claim the invitational win with 73 points, beating No. 3 Jesuit and No. 12 Farragut, but in doing so the squad also lowered their nation-leading average down to 15:12. 

Moreover, the team's lead man, No. 1 Joshua Ruiz, earned the individual win in 14:38.79. That performance is the fastest time any boys runner from the state of Florida has ever run for 5K. 

And to put a bow on top? Freshman Marcelo Mantecon clocked a time of 14:52.59, which surpasses the all-time freshman 5K best of 14:53.79, which Keegan Smith ran in 2021 at this very same meet. 

The reigning NXN qualifiers look every bit as good in 2023. 

But of course, that was only the first major storyline from The Southern Showcase. Beyond Ruiz, eight boys ran under 15 minutes on the course -- course-correcting performances after a muddy-RunningLane XC Championships in December produced some outlier times on the fastest 5K course in America. 

Ravenwood's Miles Ramer, fresh off a commitment to the University of Tennessee, was second overall in 14:39.50, while Alabama No. 1 Ethan Edgeworth was third in 14:40.85, Georgia No. 1 Tommy Latham was fourth in 14:41.01 and South Carolina No. 1 Jake Liebert was fifth in 14:43.67.

Knoxville Catholic's Keegan Smith, clocking his third performance at this meet since his freshman year, lowered his best on the course by three seconds, finishing fifth in 14:49.41. 

New Orleans Jesuit, meanwhile, was second overall in the team standings behind Belen.

While the squad was without Michael Vocke, a Louisiana 1,600m state champion who is the team's No. 2 behind Brady Mullen, they still looked good, clocking a team average of 15:29. Mullen was ninth overall in 15:02.

Farragut, nationally-ranked in MileSplit's preseason top 25 and Tennessee's top team, was third overall with a 15:35 average. A total of six teams had averages under 16 minutes for 5K. 

1	Belen Jesuit Preparatory School	73	1+7+14+16+35 (42+64)	1:06 1-5 Split | 15:12 Avg
2	Jesuit	124	9+11+21+33+50 (53+94)	1:00 1-5 Split | 15:29 Avg
3	Farragut High School	148	10+12+18+31+77 (105+144)	1:17 1-5 Split | 15:35 Avg
4	Brother Martin	185	20+25+27+43+70 (79+148)	0:44 1-5 Split | 15:47 Avg
5	Huntsville HS	209	8+28+54+56+63 (69)	1:16 1-5 Split | 15:48 Avg
6	Marist	280	4+22+46+89+119 (125)	2:06 1-5 Split | 15:53 Avg

The girls championship race, meanwhile, produced four girls under 18 minutes. 

Independence's Jaynie Halterman, who was third in the race last year, won with a time of 17:38.52. 

Caroline Hood (17:42), Abby Merner (17:50) and Katelynn Dollar (17:58) were second, third and fourth, respectively.

The Brentwood girls dispatched the field, scoring 66 points on a precise 17-second spread. Nobody else was really even close, with Auburn (AL) finishing second with 154 points. 

Brentwood locked in for an 18:25 average.

1	Jaynie Halterman	12	Independence High School	17:38.52	1
2	Caroline Hood	12	Pace Academy	17:42.38	2
3	Abby Merner	10	Auburn	17:50.85	3
4	Katelynn Dollar	12	Creekview	17:58.78	4
5	Lily Bowen	11	Harpeth Hall School	18:09.23	5
6	Caroline Couch	10	Maclay School	18:09.39	6
7	Rachel Haws	11	Brentwood High School	18:13.55	7
8	Sarah Tole	9	Auburn	18:14.24	8
9	Emma Brooke Levering	11	Homewood HS	18:17.65	9
10	Lucy Cramer	9	Parkview Baptist	18:18.30	0