The Clewiston News

Bryant qualifies for cross country finals

Katelyn Bryant just began to run a few months ago but Friday, Oct. 21, she ran 15th in the 2A-3 regional in Lakeland and qualified for the Florida state cross country finals.

“It was easy but the hills were pretty hard,” she nervously said afterward in a phone interview with The Clewiston News, “I liked to run in the gym and my coaches, friends and teachers all encouraged me to try the sport.”

Coach Bryan Poepperling said he was very impressed and appreciative of having Bryant on his team.

Special to The Clewiston News/Courtesy photo. Head cross country coach Bryan Poepperling, Katelyn Bryant and assistant coach Wyatt Newman look forward to the state competition.

“Since day one she has been a phenomenal runner. She runs everywhere. If you ask anyone on campus who she is, you just tell them she’s the girl that runs to class all the time.”

Bryant said no one is in danger of being run over on campus as she tries to always run on the grass and not the concrete where other students are.

Poepperling said he has had talent before in his five years as coach but nothing close to Bryant’s level. “She has a great work ethic and great sportsmanship. She is a great example,” he said.

Bryant also plays for the Lady Tiger soccer team and originally was attracted to the sport to improve her conditioning.

Bryant is the daughter of Teresa and Steven Woodby of Clewiston.

She finished Friday’s, Oct. 21, race in 21:34, just one second above the cut off for state.

“I just want to thank my coaches for pushing me to get me where I’m at. They pushed me really hard.”

She mentioned Assistant Coach Wyatt Newman and Poepperling as great role models and motivators.

Poepperling said he really hasn’t had to give Bryant a lot of advice before races this year, “I tell her don’t change a thing because you’ve done so well. Go out there and be you.”

Bryant said she was not sure if making it to state had actually hit her yet, “I didn’t think I made it. I’m kind of nervous but I’m really, really excited.”

She also thanked her close friends Kayla Boyer, Juan Puente and Jose Moran for their support. “Everyone at school was really happy. I received a lot of congratulations and texts Friday morning,” she added.

Bryant decided to stay the night in Lakeland to rest up for the early start time Friday. The Tigers had two boys that came close to qualifying for the regional this year.

The State final is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 5, at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee.

The region 2A-3 meet was held on Friday, Oct. 21, at Holloway Park in Lakeland. Bryant led the Lady Tigers with a time of 21:59.06. Duran Almares finished 33rd with a time of 25:35.40, Sele Gonzales Salinas finished in 26:15.54, Jaylynn Moreno finished 44th in 28:22.78, and Ciara Iglesias finished 48th with a time of 29:47.21. Clewiston finished sixth overall as a team. Lely was the team champ and Maura Poling of Lely was the district champion with a time of 20:09.29.

The boys cross country team finished in sixth place. Highlights for the Tigers included David Adams who finished in 18:53.15 to finish 21st, Javier Del Rosario who finished in 19:11.42 to finish 31st, Troy Evans who finished in 19:20.72 to finish 32nd, Jose Rios who finished 41st in 19:48.39, and Marco Figueroa who finished in 44th place with a time of 19:59.43. The other finishers for the Tigers included Juan Moran, Juan Puentes, Noah McCray, Caleb Boyer and Joel McCray. Joshua Wagner of Lely was the district champion with a finish of 16:30.66. Lely was the district champion followed by Immokalee and LaBelle.