TAMPA — The course was a little short of a 5k at Pebble Creek Golf Club, and it was a bit hot, but none of that detracted from some outstanding efforts — and a dramatic neck and neck sprint in the last 200 yards of the boys varsity race — at Friday’s Hillsborough County Cross Country Championships.
In the end, with some blazing times, it was a clean sweep for Plant, which won the girls and boys team titles, and took both the individual championships as well: Panther Anna Montgomery in 17 minutes, 49.60 seconds and Jack Guyton in 15:01, both about a minute faster than their previous bests this year.
Guyton edged Sickles’ James Zentmeyer by less than a second in a furious battle that started at the gun and lasted all the way to the finish.
“To be honest, I felt pretty bad because it was such a tough race,” said Guyton, who was dueling Zentmeyer for the first time ever. “But it feels good to get the victory.”
The effort helped Plant take the team title with 70 points, 22 ahead of Jesuit. Sickles was third with 118 and Bloomingdale took fourth with 143.
On the girls side, Plant won the county title for the fifth straight year, racking up just 60 points, 92 ahead of Academy of the Holy Names. Chamberlain took third with 157 and Freedom was fourth with 161.
For Montgomery, it felt great to get the victory, but it also was a bit frustrating to not post a legitimate time on a course that many believed was less than three miles, or at least .1 miles less than a regulation 5k.
“At the first mile my split (was about 20 seconds faster than usual) so I started thinking maybe I went out too fast and ruined my race, but then I felt OK and I thought, ‘Just keep going,’ ” Montgomery said.
Guyton said he had it in his mind that the course was short so he really didn’t pay attention to his splits.
“It would have been nice to get a (representative time),” Guyton said. “But I’m happy to win.”
Plant’s Bailey Sullivan, who has been Plant’s No. 1 through the season, said she might have had a bout with her diabetes and blood sugar. “I didn’t feel too good,” Sullivan said. “I was dizzy and lightheaded. I knew something was wrong.”
Sullivan, who was the prerace favorite to win, finished ninth in 18:58.80. Brandon’s Eliana Ochoa ended up second overall in 18:27.20. Chamberlain’s Maggie Parrish was third (18:32.90) and King’s Sneha Sathish was fourth (18:39.50).
In the boys race, Robinson’s Jack Rogers finished third in 15:34.60, Middleton’s Daniel Dean was fourth (15:44) and Jesuit’s Tim O’Loughlin was fifth (15:45.70).