GAINESVILLE – Oakleaf High junior cross country and track ace Dylan Nelson had detailed his plan to emerge as a state cross country meet qualifier with a strong summer track season; national titles …
GAINESVILLE – Oakleaf High junior cross country and track ace Dylan Nelson had detailed his plan to emerge as a state cross country meet qualifier with a strong summer track season; national titles in steeplechase, some rebuilding of mileage buildup through August and September, then start to hone in on speed as November approached.
Nelson, under the tutelage of former Keystone Heights High and University of Florida distance ace Enoch Nadler, warmed up with Nadler prior to taking a not-so-surprising eighth place finish at the region 1-4A cross country championships held Saturday at Santa Fe College in Gainesville.
“We are right where I want to be,” said Nelson, who was second to Buchholz High senior Caden Monk in the district 1-4A championship race last week with a 40 second personal best split. “I saw him turn a couple of times during today’s race to make sure I was still with him. That was nice of him to keep me up front.”
Nelson, who finished in 16:33.18 with Monk taking fourth in 16:19.01, became the first Oakleaf High cross country runner to advance to the state meet with Oakleaf coach James Henderson getting his first trip to Tallahassee.
“He deserves it,” said Henderson, who had track ace David Hall a few years ago go to the state track championships for the mile and also win the Bishop Kenny Katie Caples varsity cross country race, but never finish the season. “He has done just about everything right to get here and has been a great team leader for us.”
Running in a second pack behind a threesome of Oviedo High frontrunners including eventual winner and defending region champion Kayamo Galloway and teammate Angel Vicioso, who finished second just 13 seconds behind Galloway, Nelson keyed off of breakaways in the second half of the race to gauge his response.
“I was keeping an eye of Caden (Monk) knowing if I ran with him, we would be at a fast pace that I could handle,” said Nelson. “He was stronger at the end, but we had built a good gap behind me and I just had to finish to stay in the top 10. Guys always sprint in at the final 80-100 yards, but I had some distance between the ninth place guy (Nicholas Khan, of West Orange, at 16:38.41 with Mamush Gallowy, Kayamo’s brother, 11th at 16:39.11).”
Nelson finished out of the region 1-4A top 15 last year at 27th in 17:09 after running 16:48.44, then a school record, for fifth in the district 1-4A race.