Osceola girls, East Lake boys win PCAC titles
Cooler autumn weather sneaked in for Thursday's PCAC cross country meet at Eagle Lake Park in Largo. And a course with lots of pavement set the stage for several dramatic finishes, none greater than the team battle between county rivals Osceola and East Lake.
The East Lake girls won their first county title in 2014 and the boys team won its first title Thursday, just edging Osceola's boys 62-66.
"These kids have bee training all season for this race and it paid off," Eagle boys coach David Smith said.
The Osceola girls made school history, too, blasting the field for a slender 35 to runnerup East Lake's 62.
"To me, this is even bigger than winning districts," nine-year Osceola coach Peter Eagleson said.
East Lake defending champion Jennifer Lima and Land O' Lakes Keppel Invite champ Emma Grantges had the best times coming into the race for the girls, but it was Clearwater's Jordyn Avers just in front of Lima and Grantges early.
She kept the lead down the final straightaway, breaking the tape at 18:57.4. It was a huge personal record for the junior. Not only was it Avers' first time under 20 minutes this season, it was her first time under 19 minutes in her career.
"I'd never led a whole race before and I was thinking to myself if I wanted something I'd never had, I'd have to do something I'd never done," Avers said. "At about the 2-mile mark I heard my coach (Joshua Carol) saying I had just 1 mile to go and I knew I wasn't going to win unless I just go and give it my all."
Behind Avers was Grantges at 19:26.9, leading Osceola.
"When (Avers) went out for that first mile, I was thinking, 'Wow, that was really fast,' but she kept (the pace) and I saw I wasn't going to get that pace so I just tried to keep mine," Grantges said.
Lima was third in a season-best 19:33.5.
Senior Abu-Rumman was fourth at 19:53.8, shattering her personal record and coming in under 20 minutes for the first time in her career.
"I wanted it (sub 20) really badly. I'd been trying for a sub 20 the whole season," Abu-Rumman said. "I just tried to stay with that lead pack and that's what pushed me."
The boys race was even closer, both in individual places and for the team title.
Around the lake for the first trip, Largo's Christian Kondor and Osceola's Abimael Jimenez were locked in a battle for first. Around the lake for the second time and opening up into the final straightaway it was Kondor holding on to a slight lead as Jimenez started his kick.
Jimenez's kick was too much for Kondor and the senior won his second straight PCAC, in 16:30.9, eight seconds faster than his 2014 time.
"I tried to use them (Kondor and Largo teammate Jackson Gillette) to push myself, give me that extra push," Jimenez said. "I'm thinking in my head, 'It's my senior year and I have to strive to give it all I have; this is it, the last one (PCAC).'"
Kondor made it a strong second in 16:33.6 with Gillette not two seconds behind him at 16:35.0. St. Petersburg's Matthew Wohwend and Seminole's Cameron Leclair took fourth and fifth, respectively.
"Honestly, I didn't even know (Gillette) was there until about the second mile," said Kondor, who finished 1-2 with Gillette at Wiregrass Ranch's Run with the Bulls. "It was a gamble to try and win it but I didn't quite have (Jimenez) in a kick. Great race for him. I'm happy for him; he's earned it."
East Lake's top runner didn't come in until James Hasell in sixth at 16:54.9 but the Eagle boys came in quickly after that.