Kyle Rakitis edges Dennis Fortuna in hot 3,200 battle at Cherokee Distance Invite!

What a titanic battle Saturday morning between juniors Kyle Rakitis of Kingsway and Dennis Fortuna of Triton, who both ran 9:20 and change at the Cherokee Distance Invitational.

Rakitis won in 9:20.45 and Fortuna finished a stride back in 9:20.97.

With a lap to go, Fortuna had a slight lead on Rakitis and they both finished strong, but Rakitis closed in 66.9 and Fortuna in 67.6.

These are monster PRs for both two-milers.

Rakitis lowered his PR 23 seconds from an indoor 9:43.46 at a meet at the Bennett Center last indoor season. Fortuna’s previous PR was a 10:03.67, also last year at the Bubble.

Obviously the first outdoor race in nearly two years for both runners and the perfect conditions and great competition resulted in huge performances for both runners.

Rakitis ran within about four seconds of the Kingsway school record of 9:16.39 set two years ago by Stone Caraccio at Holmdel. It looks like Fortuna took down the Triton school record of 9:27.62, set by Rudy Bello at the 2006 state Group 4 meet at Egg Harbor.

In all, 14 runners broke 10 minutes and another five broke 10:10, all of them in the first heat.

Four runners finished between 9:39.68 and 9:41.27: Seniors Matthew Gonzalez of East Brunswick, Dawson Baptiste of Delsea [9:40.08], Aidan Groff of Cherry Hill East [9:40.36] and John Hurly of Haddonfield [9:41.27].

Baptiste PR’d by 36 seconds from a 10:16.92 at the Bubble last February, Groff from a 10:21.71 on the same Cherokee track two years ago and Hurly from a 10:20.12 at Holmdel in the spring of 2019.

Also under 10 minutes were senior Nicolas Valdivieso of Egg Harbor [9:44.75], senior Gabe Rodriguez of Cherry Hill East [9:46.58], junior Liam Tinton of Highland Park [9:46.78], senior Renzo Almedia of Robbinsville [9:53.30], sophomore Patrick Ditmars of Cherokee [9:55.53], senior Mason Brewster of Washington Township [9:57.90], senior Matthew Tiongko of East Brunswick [9:58.27] and senior Justin Whitney of Cherry Hill East [9:59.09].

Watch the race on MileSplit here! https://nj.milesplit.com/videos/468380/boys-3200-finals-section-2

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