For the 27th consecutive year, Plant’s girls cross country team will be making a trip to the state meet.
Led by an individual victory from Bailey Sullivan, the Panthers team earned its spot at state after winning Saturday’s Class 4A-Region 2 title with 72 points, just eight ahead of runner-up and meet host North Port.
Sullivan finished the 5K course in 18 minutes, 52.30 seconds, 21 seconds ahead of the next finisher. Plant’s Anna Montgomery was fourth in 19:16.60, and Abigail Crowder was 10th in 19:57.90. The Panthers’ Shelby Gilberto and Kalen Leone finished off the outstanding effort by finishing 27th and 30th, respectively, in the team race.
“We were picked to come in second in a virtual meet, but we ran well,” Plant coach Roy Harrison said. “(Sullivan’s) time was a little slow because of the humidity and the weather conditions, but she ran strong. (Sullivan) knew what she had to do. (Montgomery) ran about what she should have and (Crowder) really came through. She helped a lot.”
Plant was the only girls team from Hillsborough County to finish in the top six qualifying teams and make it out of 4A-2. Palm Harbor University placed fourth with 137 points.
On the boys’ side, Sickles’ James Zentmeyer won the individual title in 15:59.30, and Plant’s Jack Guyton was third in 16:27.50.
Four Hillsborough County boys teams also earned trips to state by finishing in the top six: Newsome was second with 120 points, Sickles third (129), Plant fourth (136) and Steinbrenner fifth (155).
3A-3: Wet conditions slow down runners
Rain fell hard on Saturday’s race at Sydney Dover Trail in East Hillsborough County, and only a few area runners qualified for the state meet in the tough conditions.
In the girls’ race, King’s Sneha Sathish and Brandon’s Eliana Ochoa finished fifth and 12th, respectively, and were the only girls runners from Hillsborough County to finish in the top 15 and qualify for next week’s state meet. Sathish finished in 19:31.6 and Ochoa crossed the finish line in 20:02.4.
On the boys’ side, only one runner from Hillsborough County, Robinson’s Jack Rogers, qualified by placing 13th overall in 17:04.6.
Robinson’s girls and boys came the closest to qualifying in the team competition, but each fell one position short in seventh place. Robinson’s girls missed by six points and the Knights’ boys came up 14 points short.
“We just didn’t get it done,” Robinson’s Mark Altimari said. “This is regionals and you have to give it everything, but it didn’t happen for us today.”
3A-2: Nichols, Gators boys win
Travis Nichols led Land O’ Lakes boys to the team title at the Class 3A-Region 2 meet at Lake Nona in Orlando.
Nichols won the individual title with a time of 16:05.10, just beating teammate Tyler Stahl, who finished in 16:05.30. Jake Poore was fourth in 16:20.
Mitchell’s Emily Kerns took third in the girls race with a time of 19:19.
“It was a solid run,” Mitchell coach Jeff Leavey said. “She was leading early on. I don’t think it was spectacular.”
Mitchell’s girls were third overall with 133 points and qualified for state.
Leavey was thrilled.
“This is ecstasy,” he said. “This is the best the girls have ever done. Leah Thompson was 17th (20:32) and was spectacular. Our solid senior, Jordan Spicer, had a 21:38, which was good for 30th. Jesse Boykin was 40th (21:38). Katelynn Emminger was 47th with 22:45.”
Mitchell’s boys did not qualify as they finished 12th with a 270-point total.
2A-3: Barreda lifts Holy Names to win
HOLIDAY — Virginia Barreda’s 25th-place finish was the tiebreaker in Academy of Holy Names’ narrow victory over Lemon Bay at the Class 2A-Region 3 meet.
With both teams tied at 46 points through five runners, Barreda proved to be the difference, finishing as Academy’s sixth runner in 22:52.
Colleen Doherty led Holy Names with a third-place finish in 20:55, followed closely by Claire Snyder, who finished fifth in 21:07. Lucinda Lennie (eighth) and Natalie Hahn (13th) were Academy’s other all-region finishers. Immokalee’s Anita Munoz won the race, covering the Anclote High School course in 20:08.
Berkeley Prep, led by a pair of all-region performances from seventh-graders, also advanced to the next week’s state meet, finishing fifth with 116 points. Catelin Lipham was ninth for the Buccaneers in 22:10, eight seconds ahead of Emma Righter, who finished 11th.
In the boys’ race, Tim O’Loughlin paced Jesuit to a second-place finish, taking third individually in 17:03. Charlie Gonzmart was eighth for the Tigers in 17:25, and Phillip Robbins was 17th in 17:41.
Vasilis Vasiloudes finished 12th in 17:33 for Berkeley Prep, helping the Buccaneers move on with a sixth-place finish. Berkeley freshman Leonel Ochoa also had a strong race, placing 19th in 17:49.
The top six teams and 15 individuals advanced to next Saturday’s state meet in Tallahassee.
2A-2: Gulf boys, girls qualify for state
BROOKSVILLE — Gulf High’s Kari Grippo found herself running alone again Saturday morning.
That was fine with her as she easily won the Class 2A-Region 2 meet at Nature Coast High School.
The senior ran the course in 18:59. Leigha Torino of North Marion was a distant second in 19:41.
“I wanted to get under 19 minutes and I did just barely,” Grippo said. “I feel like I can run a little faster at state. This is my first regional win.”
Grippo also led her team to a fifth-place finish with 105 points. The Gulf boys also took fifth with 140 points and both teams advanced to the state meet next Saturday in Tallahassee.
The Ridgewood boys finished 11th with 266 points, followed by Pasco in 12th with 276 points.
Pasco’s Kevin Hernandez just missed qualifying for state, finishing 16th in 17:18.
The top six teams and the top 15 individuals qualified for the state meet.
1A-3: Chambers leads Seffner Christian
MELBOURNE — Cory Chambers placed 11th at the Class 1A-Region 3 meet, helping Seffner Christian to a sixth-place finish and a berth at the state meet.
Chambers, a senior, ran a personal best of 17:06. Danny Pontello was 38th in 18:09, with Paul McKenzie (58th), Mitch Turner (64th) and Noah Perkins (69th) rounding out the Crusaders’ scoring, as they finished with 209 points, edging Evangelical Christian by one point for the final state-qualifying spot.
Senior Oscar Skjaerpe was Tampa Prep’s top runner, finishing 22nd in 17:41. The race was won by Andrew Cacciatore of Holy Trinity, who defeated teammate Trevor Kattenberg, 16:07 to 16:19.
Holy Trinity won the team race with 41 points, followed by Indian Rocks in 2nd with 91 points. Shorecrest (101), St. Pete Catholic (128) and Admiral Farragut (147) also advance to the state meet.
Celi Guzman of Seffner Christian was the top Hillsborough County finisher in the girls’ race, taking 22nd in 20:38. Teammate Sarai Simmons was 47th in 21:53, as Seffner placed 10th with 258 points.
Tampa Prep junior Jana Henson was 36th in 21:16. Holy Trinity’s Julie Wollrath took first in 18:14, leading her team to victory with 39 points.
Also qualifying for the state meet were Shorecrest Prep with 91 points, Community School of Naples (97), Evangelical Christian (97), Brevard HEAT (151) and Calvary Christian (197).