Plant, Plant, Plant
One of the most remarkable programs in cross country, or for that matter any sport, resides at Plant High and involves a group of hard-working girls who each of the past 26 years have qualified for the state meet. In that span, Plant has won 10 state titles. This year is a relative exercise in rebuilding, but that does not mean the Panthers won’t make it to state for the 27th year in a row. Leading the way are Panther seniors Bailey Sullivan and Anna Montgomery, who finished first and second in Saturday’s Newsome Invitational, the only two in the huge field to break 20 minutes on a challenging 5k course. Oh yes, Plant’s girls also won the meet, defeating a host of solid challengers.
Claire Snyder, Academy of the Holy Names
The two-time defending county champion could make it three in a row to finish off her senior year. Snyder placed fifth at last year’s Class 2A state meet and is perfectly capable of improving on that finish.
Maggie Parrish, Chamberlain
Keep an eye on Parrish, who could leap to the front of the Hillsborough County pack before the season is over. Parrish finished fourth at Saturday’s Newsome Invitational in 20:31. Teammate Emily Schonder is another to watch. Schonder is in the hunt to break 20 minutes for a 5k.
Maddie Hull, Robinson
The Knights senior appears poised for a breakthrough. At Saturday’s Newsome Invitational, Hull placed third overall behind Plant’s Sullivan and Montgomery.
Jesuit’s boys seek state title
The Tigers are running strong once again with dozens of participants led by Tim O’Loughlin, who at Saturday’s Newsome Invitational was one of only three boys to break 17 minutes in the 5k race. O’Loughlin placed third in 16:56 and the Tigers placed fourth as a team. O’Loughlin, who placed third overall last year at the state meet in 16:06, is in the hunt for an individual state title. Tiger Phillip Robbins also looked solid on Saturday, placing 10th in 17:34. By season’s end, the Tigers could have five runners under 17 minutes and could put themselves in position for a run at a state team title.
All five of the Knights’ top runners return this year, which is great news considering the same bunch finished eighth last year at the Class 2A state meet. Leading the way are Fred Stanford (fourth at Saturday’s Newsome meet, 17:03) and Jack Rogers (fifth at Newsome meet in 17:14). Look for this group to make history and win the school’s first boys district cross country title.
Berkeley Prep boys
Led by Max Borland, the Bucs are on the rise. Stronger than ever, Borland looks to medal at state after finishing 18th last year as a sophomore.
The LeBlancs, Bloomingdale
Brothers Andrew and Matt LeBlanc could help lead the Bulls to a state meet appearance along with teammate John Bryant. The Bulls have had a strong running program for several years and this could be one of the better seasons they’ve had in a while.
Florida State Invitational (pre-state meet), Oct. 11-12
A great indicator as to how teams and individuals will fare about a month later at the state meet.Sometimes a big motivator to get in a solid last month of training.
State meet at Apalachee Regional Park, Nov. 9
It might be a long drive from Tampa, but Apalachee Regional Park is a great place to end the cross country season. The wooded trails are often used by Florida State University as a training ground and host for major meets.