On September 21, the three Keys High School cross country teams met in Key Largo at John Pennekamp State Park to see who was the fastest 5k runner in Monroe County. With a storm looming all afternoon, the race was held within a narrow window of decent weather, giving riders a chance to battle it out in an unusual break in the heat.

It was Marathon’s Vance Bursa who won the King of the Keys title, running alone for most of the course. With no other riders to keep pace, Bursa chased the race official’s bike and finished in 16:46. The time was Bursa’s fourth personal best in as many races. Simon Gutierrez of Coral Shores finished second with a time of 18:29. Marathon’s Jakub Bursa was third, Coral Shores’ Bobby Temkin was fourth and Marathon’s Tony Bursa was fifth.

The first five results from the Bursa brothers, Mason Buxton and Dillon Shelar secured victory for the Marathon team on the boys’ side. The Fins are ready for another trip to meet the state and have been pushing their limits with track workouts and long-distance races in order to peak at the right time in the weeks ahead.

The Coral Shores men’s team took second place overall, with strong finishes from Gutierrez, Temkin, Alaric Rodriguez, Jace Jackson and Jamie Cary.

Key West’s top finisher was Colbin Hill, sixth overall. Conch’s top five finalists were Hill, Daniel Roy, Jervin Louis, Edward Baker and Sebastian Jaroszewicz. Coach Mark Coleman was very pleased with his team’s efforts, saying, “Each boy runner gave their best in the race and we had a great performance. After a tough practice Monday, Coleman had some concerns for his team entering the race, but fatigue and soreness didn’t slow the Conchs down once the shot went off.

The girls’ race was won by Key West’s Caylaa Makimaa, who completed the 3.1-mile course in 21:55. Makimaa deliberately started his season slowly, aiming to peak in the playoffs. Coleman said he expects “more outstanding performances” from one of the Lady Conchs’ top harriers in the coming weeks.

Kai Guth of Coral Shores was second in 22:19, slashing his time by nearly two minutes from his record from last season.

After the top two crossed the finish line in the girls’ race, it was a school of dolphins, as the top five in Marathon finished within a minute of each other. Madelyn Thornton came third in 23:19, followed in quick succession by teammates Ella Dunn, Mikkel Ross, Sara Robinson and Maeve Merryman. The result for the Fins team was good enough to win the race. Key West took second place and the Lady ‘Canes finished third.

After Makimaa, Key West’s top runners were Laira Anaya, Naima Thomas, Gianna Marchant and Deanna Mercier.

Coral Shores was a little understaffed for the girls, with just three riders: Guth, Jenna Mandozzi and Kacelyn Hollis.

The teams will have another chance to play each other on Tuesday, October 4 when they meet at Marathon. The race starts at 3:30 p.m. at Sombrero Beach.

About Frank Torres

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