Anclote High cross country coach Alan Parmenter had one runner who was overachieving.
As a senior, Argishti Gazari won the 3,200 meter state title and was a diamond in the rough. Does Parmenter have another this year?
Perhaps that’s sophomore Stefanos Katsiopis, who ran an 18:22 at the Mitchell Invitational at Starkey Park on Sept. 21 and an 18:27 at the Ridgewood Invitational three days later. Katsiopis had tried cross country his freshman year, but developed shin splints and stopped running. This year, Parmenter sees his possibilities.
“I think this year will be a big learning experience,’’ Parmenter said. “I think next year, he will be one of the top runners in the county. His senior year, if he keeps improving, he could be one of the best runners in the state.”
But why does Katsiopis make Parmenter so confident?
“He is very coachable,” Parmenter said. “He listens. He has a spark about him that you just can’t teach. He doesn’t like having people in front of him. He has competitive drive.”
Katsiopis also reminds Parmenter of Gazari, from form to potential.
“His improvement has been phenomenal. He is a very smooth runner. His natural athleticism is phenomenal. He has a lot of room to grow,” Parmenter said.
Katsiopis, a 4.0-GPA student and a devout Jehovah’s Witness that may become active in his church and an electrical engineer, says he’s not sure why he runs cross country, but has the desire to be the best.
“I like to get good at things. I have the desire to try hard,” Katsiopis said. “I don’t know my limits. I don’t have a stopping point.”
Katsiopis has already overcome some problems, including severe asthma he outgrew. He also hurt his knee over the summer but used the “Insanity” cardio workout as a way to rehab. He also said he and his father, Chris, do core workouts.
Parmenter sees the raw talent in Katsiopis, and hopes to coach him to a 3,200 meter state title or even a cross country individual title.
“He has it in him, I think,” Parmenter said.
Gator Invitational on Saturday
Many of the top high school cross country teams will be at the Land O’ Lakes High Gator Invitational on Saturday at Crews Lake Park.
The girls race will begin at 8 a.m. and the boys start at 8:35 a.m.
Also, coming up on Oct. 12, the Pasco County high school cross country teams will gather at Wiregrass Ranch High for the Sunshine Athletic Conference meet.
Correspondent Larry Bugg can be reached at email@example.com.