Osceola girls easily outdistance the Mitchell Invite field
TRINITY — Saturday's Mitchell Invitational held true to the recent trend in West Pasco cross country meets.
Just two weekends ago, Wiregrass Ranch pulled the four-squad sweep (boys and girls varsity and JV races). With Wiregrass Ranch absent at JB Starkey Park on Saturday, it was Osceola pulling off the four-squad sweep. The Warrior girls scored 44 points to runnerup East Lake's 104. Land O' Lakes was third with 123. The Warrior boys won their side with 99 to East Lake's 136.
The girls race went off first and as the pack stretched out there was no clear leader heading into the woods. When the runners emerged it was Lecanto's Claire Farnsworth with Osceola's Emma Grantges just a few strides behind her. Then it was Land O' Lakes freshman Natalie Abernathy, Clearwater's Jordyn Avers, East Lake's Jennifer Lima and King's Micaela Torres with sizable leads on the rest of the field.
When the runners rounded the corner to come back down the starting chute, Grantges had eclipsed Farnsworth and Lima had slipped in front of Avers. Grantges held on for the win in 20:06.6 with Farnsworth in second (20:13.0) and Abernathy third (20:15.0). Lima took fourth in 20:26.0. Avers and Torres were fifth and sixth in 20:39.0 and 21:01.0, respectively.
"To be honest, I didn't even know how close the finish was; I thought it was closer," Grantges said. "At first, I thought there was no way I was going to catch (Farnsworth)."
Grantges, a recent HomeTeam Hot Shot winner, made her move around the final cluster of trees to move into the lead.
"It was so close. When I moved in front I expected (Farnsworth) to kick it out with me but she didn't and I took advantage," Grantges said.
Abernathy keeps edging closer to her pace setter, Farnsworth, this time just two seconds behind her.
"(Farnsworth) always goes out a little fast. At the 2-mile mark I tried to pick up my time to try and catch her," Abernathy said. "It really helps me push my pace; I like it."
And the Osceola girls left little doubt as Fatima Abu-Rumman took seventh (21:23.3), then Kiley Coleman, Drew Safko and Meghan Gregoire raced in at 11th, 12th and 13th making it a dominant win by the Warriors. Safko and Gregoire are just freshmen while Coleman is a sophomore.
"(Safko and Gregoire) came out of nowhere this year," Osceola coach Peter Eagleson said. "There used to be a big gap between (Abu-Rumman) and (Coleman) but (Gregoire) and (Safko) every week get better and better and move up the ranks."
It was a major victory for Eagleson and the Warriors after placing fourth at the North Port Invitational a week ago.
The boys race was one you couldn't dream up any better.
Coming out of the woods after the 2.5-mile mark, Sickles' Paris Williams and Clearwater's Sean Heera were battling for the top spot with Williams in the lead position. Lecanto's Mackenzie Woods, CDS' Jack Pironti, Osceola's Abimael Jimenez and host Mitchell's Austin Koos trailed closely behind.
Around the cluster of trees it was Williams and Heera trading blows. All the way to the finish line the pair battled until a final thrust at the line could not determine a winner and the race was called a tie at 17:13.8.
"When (Heera) caught up to me on that last turn, I started dry heaving," Williams said. "That's when I saw he was in front of me and I went and took (the lead) again before an all-out finish."
Williams and Heera have never faced each other before, hailing from different counties, but hatched a great rivalry on Saturday.
"I wanted to get every footstep ahead of him that I could," Williams said. "(With an unfamiliar opponent), your adrenaline is pumping and when they're close to you, you don't know how strong their kick is."
Heera excelled under the pressure, too.
"By the 3-mile mark, it was an all-out sprint," Heera said. "It really gets your blood pumping and you have to be on your toes the whole time and push through."
Woods finished in third at 17:22.2 and Jimenez was fourth in 17:27.2 with Koos moving up into fifth at 17:28.5.