By STEVE KNAPP

Arcadian Sports Editor

The DeSoto County boys cross-country team placed five runners in the top six to easily defeat the Hardee Wildcats on Tuesday, 19-41. The girls team had their top three runners finish in fourth, sixth, and eighth place, falling to the Wildcats by a similar score, 18-37.

Eduardo Maldonado used a strong kick to finish first for the Bulldogs. Trailing by 15 yards with just over a quarter mile to go in the 5K race, Maldonado used a strong finish to overcome the Hardee runner and beat him by four seconds.

“He is one of the runners we took to Georgia and I knew he could beat the Hardee runner. When you run up and down those hills in Georgia, it builds you up, and I knew Eduardo would finish strong,” said coach Julie Chidsey.

Seven of the top 10 runners wore the blue and white of DeSoto County. Behind Maldonado’s winning time of 19:51 were Leo Robles with a time of 20:24, good for third place, followed by Jayme Moran in fourth place with a 20:45 finish.

On the ladies side of the event, Lupita Manriquez was the first Bulldog to cross the finish line. Her time of 25:04 was good for fourth place overall. Miriam Hernandez finished second (sixth overall) with a 26:24 time, followed by Amelia Nieto in eighth place at 28:41.

The meet was held at the DeSoto County High School, as the usual home course at Morgan Park was under water. Coaches Chidsey and Adrian Gonzalez spent three hours the night before the meet laying out the course.

It started on the track and went around the high school, past the softball and baseball fields and around the football field. It continued around the school and football practice field and back to the track for the final quarter mile.

Gonzalez rode a bike in front of the pack to show everyone the course and finished the day with over eight miles.

“It was tough on the grass and it slowed me down. One runner almost caught up with me when I was riding through the muddy part of the course,” said Gonzalez.

The Bulldogs run this Saturday at Lemon Bay High School starting at 8 a.m.

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