TALLAHASSEE — Recent workouts gave Sickles High junior James Zentmeyer the idea he could run a race much faster than he had ever run.
But it just wasn’t happening.
His race times, no matter how well the workouts were going, hovered around 16 minutes for a 5K.
Until Saturday at the Class 4A state meet over the cool, hilly, tree-lined 5K course at Apalachee Regional Park. That’s where Zentmeyer said, “I’m just going to kill myself with this effort and see what happens.”
Zentmeyer took off with the leaders, held tough through two miles, told himself, “Now I’m just giving up to God,” and ran the final mile with every single ounce of energy that he had. Down the final 200 yards to the finish line, he found himself neck and neck with Sunset’s Nick Diaz, who held off Zentmeyer’s relentless charge.
Diaz won in 15 minutes, 22.90 seconds, .26 seconds ahead of Zentmeyer.
“I really, really tried,” said Zentmeyer, whose time was more than 30 seconds faster than his former personal best. “But I feel great.”
His effort helped Sickles to an 18th-place team finish with 406 points. Newsome’s boys placed the best among Hillsborough County schools in 10th place (309). Plant was next in 15th with 359 and Steinbrenner was 21st with 493. Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas won the boys title with 101 points.
Plant’s Jack Guyton was the next area individual to cross the finish in the boys race, placing 13th in 16:08.62, while Countryside’s Andrew Llewellyn was 23rd (16:23.42).
On the girls side, Plant’s girls once again led the local charge, finishing sixth as a team with 210 points. St. Thomas Aquinas won with 63 points.
Plant’s’ No. 1 runner, Bailey Sullivan, also led area individuals with a 16th-place overall showing in 19:17.26, well off her personal best and what she expected on Saturday.
“I don’t know what it was, but it just wasn’t our day today,” Sullivan said. “My legs felt strange starting out.”
Palm Harbor’s Sarah Raymond was 19th (19:23.82) and Sickles’ Abigail Grant was 25th (19:29.51).