LARGO — Northside Christian surprisingly swept the boys and girls races Thursday morning at Taylor Park, capturing the Class A, District 5 titles.
The boys were favored to win. The girls, however, knocked off pre-race favorite Keswick Christian and Indian Rocks Christian. And another surprise: Mustangs junior standout Katelyn Greenleaf was challenged before winning in 18 minutes, 54 seconds.
Unbeaten locally, Greenleaf survived a fall at the 1-mile mark, then held off challenger Sabrina Whiting of Seffner Christian, who pressed Greenleaf until a late surge finished her off.
“She went right out after me; I was expecting her to be up there,” Greenleaf said.
Greenleaf used a “little sprint” to make up for lost time after her tumble, then shook off Whiting, who finished in 19:05, with about 800 meters to go. Tampa Prep’s Claire Snyder was third.
The Mustang girls — who got personal bests from Victoria Gooden and Courtney and Caillin Heron — finished with 83 points, advancing to regionals next week with IRC, Keswick, Tampa Prep and Shorecrest.
The Mustang boys were led by top-10 finishes from Joseph Chapman (fourth, 17:18), Mario Ojeda (eighth, 17:42) and Matthew Montanari (ninth, 17:42) on their way to a 68-93 advantage over runnerup Admiral Farragut.
Farragut junior Blake Arnold was second overall, following a quick pace and chasing Lakeland’s Mark Mutz most of the race before settling for silver.
“I usually like to stay back and let (the leader) pull me, but he just kept surging,” Arnold said. “At the 2-mile mark, I just couldn’t hold it any longer.”
Arnold finished in 17 minutes, 31 seconds behind Mutz.
Tampa Prep, Keswick, Shorecrest and Clearwater Central Catholic all advanced to regionals.