Funny what a little summer mileage can do for you.
No, Academy of Holy Names junior Claire Snyder didn't go nuts and log 1,000 miles since the end of last track season. She said she probably ran a little less than 200 miles. She even went to one of those summer running camps in North Carolina.
But when you're as talented at running distance as Snyder is, you can get away not doing monster mileage, at least while you're still in high school.
Entering her sophomore season last fall, when she competed for Tampa Prep, Snyder said she hardly put in any miles during the summer. And then she proceeded to win the Hillsborough County championships.
Snyder won Saturday's West Hillsborough Invitational at Al Lopez Park. She covered what was essentially a road race 5-kilometer course in 18 minutes, 48 seconds (about 6:03 per mile) and beat everyone on Plant's two-time defending Class 4A state championship squad.
True, the Panthers were under orders from coach Roy Harrison to hold back the first mile, which allowed Snyder to build a cushion on the chase pack. And runner-up Julia Rodriguez was closing that gap fast in the final mile.
However, the fact remains Snyder is a stronger runner than last season and, with those limited but important miles of training, still fresh and enthusiastic about the sport.
''I definitely feel more prepared than last year and the races don't hurt as much this year,'' Snyder said after Saturday's race. ''I guess I'm a fan now of summer mileage.''
Snyder said she's also a big fan of the Academy of Holy Names. At first, she said she was apprehensive about switching private schools. She hardly knew anyone at AHN and was coming in as a junior, a relatively late change for high school. But she said her teammates and coach Ray Rodriguez immediately made her feel part of the squad.
''I love it at the Academy,'' Snyder said. ''Definitely, the (school) work is pretty tough and your junior year is a little stressful but the girls there and on my team, I love them all. I'm so happy.''
After playing at wide receiver Friday against four-time state football champion Plant, Jefferson senior Jonathan Moore got up Saturday morning to run in the West Hillsborough meet. There, Moore finished 24th in 17:35. With football practice his first priority, Moore, who finished third in the 3A state track finals in the 800, doesn't get a chance to run as many miles as some of his competitors.
Out ... for now
One noticeable absentee from the West Hillsborough meet was Academy of the Holy Names sophomore Colleen Doherty. She holds personal bests of 18:43 (5k) and 11:34.97 (3,200). But Jaguars coach Rodriguez says Doherty is suffering from a stress reaction in her tibia bone and is expected to miss the next few weeks of the season.
Locally, the county's next big meet is Thursday afternoon's Ron Frost Invitational at Durant High. Saturday, King High will host the Central Hillsborough Invitational on its campus. Also Saturday, several county squads are heading out of town. To the south, there's the North Port Invitational. To the north, there's the Mitchell Invitation at Starkey Park in New Port Richey.