Hundreds of runners descended on Marco Island thanks to the Marco Island Academy’s Cross Country Invitational held at Mackle Park last weekend. The annual race is organized under head coach Bruce Kretschmer. Bruce envisioned bringing the race to new levels and with the support of MIA, coaches, parents, athletes, and the Parks and Recreation Department, he has accomplished just that. Gone are the days of white plastic chains funneling runners to a single file, handing each a strip of paper to mark their time and place as they crossed the finish. Some of the volunteers and faculty from the first race still volunteer today; George Abounader, Jane Watt, Ellen Kretschmer and Rona Donato to name just a few.
“This is a great sport where everyone supports each other,” commented Rona, MICMS staff. “I love seeing the camaraderie.” It was very evident as teammates run down the stretch just to cheer a runner to the finish. Parents, siblings and friends hollered words of encouragement from the sidelines. Coaches could be heard giving last-minute advice. By the time a runner reaches the finish they are physically depleted from pushing themselves so hard. Although each runner places individually, the top three teams in each category received plaques from MIA principal, Melissa Scott.
A major enhancement to this year’s MIA Cross Country Invitational is the use of sanctioned timing and scoring services through Servant Spirit. Also new this year, an emcee who not only offered background entertainment but made announcements keeping attendees informed as to race starts as well. Small improvements like this raise the race to a new level. “There were two other major cross country meets today.” said Jane Watt, MIA founder, “Coaches decide which is best for them to attend. It is encouraging to our athletes to have such great participation at home.”
“Overall, 550-600 registered to run this race from 29 schools, it’s a good indicator of the popularity of the MIA Cross Country Invitational meet. We grew from just a few schools to 29,” said Coach Kretschmer. “We hope this event will continue to grow and look forward to seeing everyone next year. Special thanks to our sponsors, Kriger Orthodontics and Casey Cosmetic Surgery Center. They made it possible for these students to compete. We appreciate the support.”
Full results can be found at: servantspirittiming.com.