Since 2010, Josh Wood has been watching his Frostproof cross country team make laps around the track and races through the trails look easy.
“I would say we’re one big family,” he said with a smile during a recent practice.
The team leaders respond to Wood’s whistle and lead the group around the track.
One of them stands out.
“Definitely one of my better runners,” said Wood, “If not, one of the better runners in school history.”
Antonio Gomez’s only competition may have come from his own family.
“I can barely make it two miles and he’s already halfway there,” said his sister, Roxanne Cedeno, who ran cross country at Frostproof High School and graduated from in 2013. “Cross country has been in our family for a while. It’s been handed down and handed down and he’s one of the best in our family.”
Antonio is a two-time county champion and two-time boys cross country runner of the year. He prays before each race for safety and to do his best.
“I like to watch him. I go to every single race” said his dad -- also named Antonio. “I’m excited when he runs.”
On this day, Antonio’s dad, one of his uncles, his sister, his mom and his grandmother are in attendance, not to mention a half-dozen nieces and nephews. All of them show up to cheer and support him.
But, the person who inspires Antonio before each race is hundreds of miles away.
“Here is a picture of him,” he says, pulling out an old photo of his uncle out of his backpack.
Omar Gomez is in Mexico. He has never seen Antonio race. The last time they saw each other, Antonio was 8-years old.
“He’s a pretty special guy,” said Antonio.
Omar was imprisoned after police pulled over the car he was driving. The car was borrowed from a friend. The trunk contained drugs and Omar couldn’t prove they didn’t belong to him.
Now, he is out of prison but must remain in Mexico. Antonio communicates with him through Facebook. His hope is that his uncle will be able to come to Florida for his graduation next year.