Class 3A cross country primer
When: Saturday. Class 3A girls race at 7:30 a.m.; boys race at 8:20 a.m.
Where: Apalachee Regional Park, Tallahassee
Breaking down Class 3A: The Osceola Warriors continue to rise to the occasion this year. After winning their first PCAC title on the girls side and later sweeping both the boys and the girls district titles, the Warriors were the Region 3 runners-up behind Fort Myers.
The addition of volleyball player Emma Grantges has been a key in the Warriors' success in 2015. Grantges has a 19:22.2 from districts, but now that her volleyball season is over, she could move up significantly Saturday. Still, with the Tallahassee-area schools from Region 1 coming into basically their home course, the Warrior girls will be hard-pressed to break into the top-10 teams. The Land O'Lakes girls were second in 3A, Region 2 but only after a tiebreaker with Ocala Vanguard and with 92 points.
There are a handful of 3A girls to keep an eye on not wearing orange and blue or blue and yellow.
Chamberlain's Maggie Parrish took third at regionals in 19:21.42 but has a season-best 18:52.9 from the pre-state meet (on Saturday’s course). Parrish's pre-state mark has her ranked seventh in her class. Parrish ran a 19:47.5 at state in 2014, but that only got her 36th place. Parrish will need a breakout performance to crack the top 10.
East Lake's Jennifer Lima set her personal best at districts, an 18:58.9. Lima and the Eagles all got sick right before last year's state meet, so they're all looking to set down rebound performances. Lima, very busy with soccer, could have a big meet if she's able to focus her energy for it. Lima had the best finish of any of her Pinellas County counterparts at regionals, fourth at 19:37.51 behind Parrish. Her trend is heading up.
Beyond Lima, Land O'Lakes freshman Natalie Abernathy and Clearwater's Jordyn Avers are formidable runners. Avers won both the county and 3A-10 title where she ran a personal best 18:53.1, only to go over 20 minutes and place sixth at regionals. If Avers still hasn't peaked, looked for her to make a mark at states.
Abernathy, the Pasco County champ, still hasn't quite cracked 19 minutes but she slashed more than 50 seconds off her marks from districts to regionals, taking third, and has a 19:20.9 from pre-state. King's Micaela Torres is steadily improving in her first full season back from injury. She was ninth at regionals (20:08.13).
On the boys side, the prospects are more slim.
Jesuit's John Robbins ran a 17:07.68 for fifth at regionals. Clearwater's Sean Heera, still coming back from a nagging leg injury, was ninth (17:17.93) but has a 16:35.9 from districts. Robinson's Dannys Marrero, Largo's Jackson Gillette and East Lake's James Hasell, along with PCAC champ Abimael Jimenez, need to run personal bests to make a mark in the final meet of the season.
Jimenez has a 16:30.9and Gillette a 16:35 from PCAC. Wesley Chapel's Dominic Moreno, the Pasco County champ, was sixth at regionals in 16:33.3 but set his personal best at the meet. The top seven ranked male runners in 3A are all under 16 minutes.