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Belen wins seventh consecutive cross country title

School breaks state record with 15 all-time championships

TALLAHASSEE | Belen Jesuit won an unprecedented seventh consecutive state championship – and record-breaking 15th all-time in state history – at the 2023 Florida High School Athletic Association Cross Country Championships, which were held Nov. 17, 2023, at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee.

Belen came in first place even though its number one runner, senior Joshua Ruiz, collapsed near the finish and had to crawl toward the finish line.

Belen senior Joseph Ruiz, left, encourages his brother, senior Joshua Ruiz, who collapsed near the finish line at the 2023 Florida High School Athletic Association Cross Country Championships, held Nov. 17, 2023, in Tallahassee. Belen still won its seventh consecutive state title.

Photographer: COURTESY | Victor Arrieta

Belen senior Joseph Ruiz, left, encourages his brother, senior Joshua Ruiz, who collapsed near the finish line at the 2023 Florida High School Athletic Association Cross Country Championships, held Nov. 17, 2023, in Tallahassee. Belen still won its seventh consecutive state title.

In cross country, the first five runners from each team to cross the finish line receive the points that correspond to their place – first place receives one point, second place two, and so on. The team receiving the lowest score wins.

Belen’s Class 3A Boys finished with 33 points, far ahead of second-place Naples’ 146 points, on the strength of the 5K runs of team members:

  • Freshman Marcelo Mantecon, second place (15:09.9)
  • Senior Joseph Ruiz, fifth place (15:40.20)
  • Junior Justin Ruiz, sixth place (15:49.30)
  • Senior Joshua Ruiz, eighth place (15:51.50)
  • Senior Evan Torres, 13th place (15:57.30)
Other Catholic schools that competed placed as follows:

Class 4A Boys

Christopher Columbus came in third place with 157 points behind Alejandro Romagosa’s sixth place finish with a time of 15:36.0.

Class 3A Boys

St. Thomas Aquinas came in 18th place with 473 points.

Class 3A Girls:

  • Our Lady of Lourdes Academy came in third place with 142 points on the strength of Alessandra Perez’s 10th place finish with a time of 18:52.8.
  • St. Thomas Aquinas came in 19th place with 529 points.
  • Archbishop McCarthy came in 31st place with 768 points.
Class 2A Girls:
  • Carrollton placed fifth overall with 290 points behind the running of junior Grace Aldrich, who came in fifth with a time of 18:27.4.
  • St. Brendan: No team score as only two runners qualified.
Belen Jesuit Prep's cross country runners and coaches are honored for their seventh consecutive first-place finish, and 15th overall state championship, at the conclusion of the 2023 Florida High School Athletic Association Cross Country Championships, held Nov. 17, 2023, in Tallahassee.

Photographer: COURTESY | Victor Arrieta

Belen Jesuit Prep's cross country runners and coaches are honored for their seventh consecutive first-place finish, and 15th overall state championship, at the conclusion of the 2023 Florida High School Athletic Association Cross Country Championships, held Nov. 17, 2023, in Tallahassee.