OHS cross country team makes state

OKEECHOBEE — Daniel Shelly, Adrian Guerrero, Hunter Sills, Brendan Patterson, Gerardo Saucedo, Dylan Ferneau and Isaac Garcia showed what teamwork, hard work and support could do this season in the sport of cross country.

The Brahman boys team qualified for the state finals when they tied West Shore High School for fourth place at the regional race hosted Saturday at South Fork High School.

It was the third race Okeechobee had competed in on that course and that might have been another factor in the Brahmans making history. The team is believed to be the first in OHS history to make the state finals in cross country.

OHS Cross Country goes to state, November 2015.

OHS Cross Country goes to state, November 2015.

Coach A.J. Mayernik deflected praise for the accomplishment when interviewed Monday. He said you must give the credit to the boys who worked hard and showed what Okeechobee is all about.

“Everybody is so excited. Everywhere I went in school today, I just got congratulations. I couldn’t be more proud of these guys,” he said.

Mayernik said he hasn’t had to motivate the kids much, give them inspirational speeches, or even tweak their running style in the past month because the kids have just performed well.

“I tell them just keep running the way you’re running. The team is self-sufficient. They think a lot like me.”

Only 24 teams from around the state will be competing in the race along with individuals who qualified with fast times from across Florida.

Hunter Sills said he felt he has done better than he had expected to do. He just joined the team this year. He broke the 18-minute mark in the last race, as he finished in 17:51, good for 31st place in the region.

“I don’t think the team could be any more ready than we are. It will be a thrill to race in the big leagues.”

Daniel Shelley was the top runner for Okeechobee Saturday as he finished 12th overall with a tie of 17:04. He injured his leg in the first race of the year which put him behind, but he didn’t let that stop him. He said he would make a difference this year and was true to his word.

“It was hard standing around and watching my team early in the year. It was exciting to get back and to make a difference. We pushed each other and helped each other a lot this year.”

He said he won’t put a lot of pressure on himself Saturday just run the race as best as he can. He thanked Coach Mayernik and his father Mitchell Gainey for their support.

Brendan Patterson was a big part of the team this year because he was very consistent from race to race. He finished in 38th place Saturday with a time of 18:01. He said the state finals will be a reward for the team’s hard work over the summer.

“We dropped our times all year long and we are working this week to get as ready as we can. I expect there will be a lot of adrenaline at the start line Saturday,” he noted.

Dylan Ferneau was another runner who battled injuries this year. He finished Saturday with a time of 18:58, good for 68th place.

“Saturday went really well, and a lot of the guys improved their times. We knew the course and that was an advantage.”

Ferneau said the team had good chemistry and helped each other this year.

He said making state will give him and the team a sense of accomplishment.

Adrian Guerrero finished Saturday in 27th place with a time of 17:46. Gerardo Saucedo finished in 48th place with a time of 18:25. Isaac Garcia finished the race in 73rd place with a time of 19:05.

The team is believed to be the first in OHS history to make the state finals in cross country.

The team is believed to be the first in OHS history to make the state finals in cross country.

The individual race winner was Steven Cross of Merritt Island who finished in 15:40. Belen Jesuit was the regional champion.

The state race will be hosted by Leon County Schools on Saturday, Nov. 7, at 8:20 a.m. at Apalachee Regional Park. There is a $9 admission charge.

Charles M. Murphy is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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