District cross country: Wharton girls, Plant boys prevail in tough district
TAMPA — The stage was set last week at the same park, Al Lopez, with the same Hillsborough County powerhouses competing for a chance to escape Class 4A, District 6.
The Plant boys edged Steinbrenner, and the Wharton girls clipped Plant last week. The top four boys teams from the county along with the Pasco County champion and three of the top four girls teams and the Pasco County runnerup were all crammed into 4A-6. Someone’s season had to end Thursday.
Wharton’s Alisha Deschenes and Rania Samhouri got out in front through the first mile for the girls with Steinbrenner’s Alexandra Straumann in the mix. Wharton’s Bryanna Rivers was pulling up in fourth, and all were within a few seconds of each other.
Coming back through the starting area and into the second loop of the course, the pack tightened with Plant’s Laura Jones pressing in. As the runners emerged from the woods a second time, at about the 2-mile mark, it was still Deschenes and Samhouri leading the way with Jones and Straumann battling for third.
Into the final approach, Deschenes made a big move to emerge uncontested as she cut the line at 19:38.3.
“I just knew I had to give it my all and get first place for Wharton; every point counts,” Deschenes said. “(Samhouri) and I push each other; we run for each other.”
Straumann couldn’t catch Deschenes down the stretch but did hold on for a runnerup finish in 19:45.8. Fast-kicking, 800-meters specialist Rivers ran Jones down and snatched third for Wharton at 19:50.9, a personal record for the junior.
Samhouri faded into fourth, but her 19:57.9 capped a remarkable feat by the Wharton girls. Deschenes, Samhouri and Rivers were all over 20 minutes on the same course the week prior, and all cracked 20 on Thursday evening. It helped the Wharton girls keep the edge on 10-time state champion Roy Harrison and his Plant girls.
The Steinbrenner girls, along with an effort from Brooke Santiesteban (sixth, 20:20.3), grabbed the final qualifying spot with 53 points, leaving Pasco County runnerup Wiregrass packing up for the season.
The boys race was another battle.
Through the first mile, Plant’s Rob Leverone, Sickles’ Paris Williams and Plant’s Quasan Markowski were a tight 1-2-3 with Wiregrass Ranch’s Joey Salerno in fourth. Coming back through the starting grass field, Leverone and Williams began to pull away.
Coming out of the woods for the second time, at roughly the 2-mile mark, Williams made a big move and put 10 seconds on Leverone, and Plant’s Walker Thomas moved up with Markowski for third. Around the final approach, it was all Williams as he slammed past the finish line in 16:11.0, less than two seconds off his runnerup finish at county behind Seffner Christian’s Noah Perkins.
“Around the 2-mile mark, I noticed (Leverone) drop back and I decided to take away as much ground as I could,” Williams said.
Leverone held for second in 16:27.9, improving his county mark by more than 15 seconds.
“I felt like I was more prepared today (than at county),” Leverone said. “I was more confident this race, too, going out with Paris (Williams), but he made a move about 1.5 miles in and I tried to keep up with him but I’m still happy with my performance.”
Markowski raced into third at 16:30.8 and Thomas jumped up in the standings with a fourth-place finish in 16:36.9, just three seconds off his personal record and helping the Panther boys go 2-3-4.
Salerno held for fifth in 16:42.5 and helped the Pasco County champion Wiregrass Ranch boys post 75 points to grab the final qualifying spot and close out Sickles (78).
The teams and individuals advancing to regionals:
Girls teams: Newsome 20, Bloomingdale 59, Riverview 98
Individuals: Bailey Hertenstein (Riverview) 18:33.17, Maria Somrah (Newsome) 20:31.45, Juliana Somrah (Newsome) 20:40.55, Marcella Benner (Newsome) 21:02.71, Delsie Borgen (Newsome) 21:14.99, Hannah Stowe (Plant City) 21:24.14, Isabelle Guevara (Newsome) 21:24.45, Katie Dunn (Newsome) 21:51.03, Julianna Tragakis (Newsome) 21:51.98, Kali Clemmer (Bloomingdale) 22:09.89, Grace Taylor (Strawberry Crest) 22:28.69, Christina Hernandez (Bloomingdale) 22:36.80, Lindsay McKishnie (Bloomingdale) 22:40.09, Clark Mulligan (Bloomingdale) 22:52.19, Madison Manley (Plant City) 23:06.28
Boys teams: Newsome 27, Bloomingdale 38, Plant City 70
Individuals: Haftom Fliegelman (Durant) 16:45.07, Cody Caskey (Newsome) 17:32.79, Luke Whitmore (Plant City) 17:39.65, Colin Boutin (Bloomingdale) 17:43.62, Triston Vaira (Newsome) 17:49.40, James Benik (17:49.96), Alexander Bugielski (Newsome) 18:02.86, Michael Schramm (Newsome) 18:03.26, William Urbance (Bloomingdale) 18:03.81, Alexander Burke (Newsome) 18:09.73, Kyle Perry (Bloomingdale) 18:16.19, Noah Booz (Plant City) 18:18.92, Noah McCausland (Bloomingdale) 18:22.23, Joshua Martin (Durant) 18:27.96, Justin Garcia (Strawberry Crest) 18:32.68
Girls teams: Wharton 32, Plant 41, Steinbrenner 53
Individuals: Alisha Deschenes (Wharton) 19:38.3, Alexandra Straumann (Steinbrenner) 19:45.8, Bryanna Rivers (Wharton) 19:50.9, Laura Jones (Plant) 19:51.3, Rania Samhouri (Wharton) 19:57.9, Brooke Santiesteban (Steinbrenner) 20:20.3, Abigail Crowder (Plant) 20:22.1, Nadia Stratton (Plant High School) 20:26.0, Gillian Minnehan (Plant) 20:26.8, Brenna Moran (Wiregrass Ranch) 20:28.7, Marin James (Wharton) 20:31.2, Rachel Lettiero (Wharton) 20:36.4, Courtney Jones (Plant) 20:36.7, Brieanna Rekow (Steinbrenner) 20:57.3, Sarah Magee (Steinbrenner) 21:05.1
Boys teams: Plant 43, Steinbrenner 56, Wiregrass Ranch 75
Individuals: Paris Williams (Sickles) 16:11.0, Robert Leverone (Plant) 16:27.9, Quasan Markowski (Plant) 16:30.8, Walker Thomas (Plant) 16:36.9, Joseph Salerno (Wiregrass Ranch) 16:42.5, Andrew Myers (Steinbrenner) 16:53.2, Ian R. Campbell (Steinbrenner) 16:57.7, Noah Damjanovic (Wharton) 17:06.8, Nathir Fator (Sickles) 17:12.3, Nathan Collins (Sickles) 17:13.4, Christian Suriel (Wiregrass Ranch) 17:19.6, Tyler Johannes (Steinbrenner) 17:20.1, Miles Waite (Plant) 17:25.4, Kevin Jaquez (Wiregrass Ranch) 17:25.9, Hector Quinones (Steinbrenner) 17:26.4