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Plant City Courier

Durant At Start Of Another Run Toward States

DAREK SHARP, The Tampa Tribune Staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 27, 2013 at 03:47 AM

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DURANT - Realistically the Durant Cougars are not expecting a return trip to the state cross country meet, where last year they posted a top-20 finish.

But that's not to say several Cougars won't be making the journey to Little Everglades Ranch in Dade City, site of this year's finals.

Cross country's postseason begins Thursday, and for Durant and Plant City that means a trip to Sarasota for the District 4A-4 meet. The Raiders and Cougars will be joined by runners from 16 other schools at Oscar Scherer State Park.

Durant's boys may have what it takes to advance to the regional stage as a group. The top eight teams will make it past the district level. But in addition, the top 15 individuals are guaranteed of moving on.

That would seem to favor John Mitchell, Durant's top returning runner after seniors Kevin Jones and Khemaron Kelly left a stellar squad. Mitchell ran 26th in last year's state meet.

'He is running really well, running strong,' said Durant cross country coach Mike Gursky. 'His times have come down significantly since his first few races.'

Gursky added that Mitchell has been a tremendous leader in his junior season, as has senior Dan Barousse, who Gursky also hopes can make it to the state meet.

On the girls' side, Durant has a very capable freshman. Grace VanDeGrift has performed well in numerous events leading up to high school but was slowed for much of this season by a thigh injury. Gursky indicated if VanDeGrift can get through the district meet, as her thigh is nearly healed, she could do well.

Thursday's girls' race begins at 4:30 p.m., followed by the boys at 5.

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