TITUSVILLE — All the miles logged, long days of training, countless hours in the weight room — they’re all done in preparation for a day like Hernando’s Jesse Balogh had at the Class 2A, Region 2 region meet at Chain of Lakes Park on Saturday.
Balogh, a senior, ran a 17:03.97 to finish fifth and lock up one of the top 15 guaranteed spots at next week’s state meet.
“Jesse ran an absolutely fantastic race. We couldn’t have scripted it any better,” coach Ken Dent said. “He’s trained hard all year, worked hard and never taken a day off. And this is the result of all that work. It’s a picture-perfect day all around.”
Balogh explained his run strategy on a day that the 98-man field competed into a strong head wind.
“I wanted to just stay controlled the whole first mile,” he said. “After that I just gutted it out and God gave me the power to do the rest.”
While Balogh was more than satisfied with his run, Pasco’s Anthony Plourde was disappointed in the end result. Plourde built what appeared to be a comfortable lead early and by the 2-mile mark was well ahead of the field. Then Plourde faded off the pace and finished in 17:14.07 for an 11th-place finish.
“I guess his legs just gave out after that 2-mile mark,” Pasco coach Barry Grayling said. “He was 15 yards ahead and then he was behind. I honestly don’t know what happened. Maybe something’s wrong. We’ll let him rest a couple of days and then see from there.”
Another surprise for Pasco — a nice one — was the performance by Carson Brock (17:13.86), who just edged out his teammate at the line for a 10th-place finish.
“Carson ran great today,” Grayling said. “He played in the football game (Friday night) and then drove down here and ran like this.”
Other area runners qualifying for state were Anclote’s Argishti Gazari (sixth, 17:04.90) and Spencer Guerette (ninth, 17:13.61). The overall boys winner was Lake Highland Prep’s Nick Papa (16:31.60).
The day’s most impressive run, however, was on the girls side. Cocoa Beach’s Shelby Davidson turned in a time of 18:08.52 to finish 1:17 ahead of teammate Savannah Bradley.
None of the North Suncoast’s teams advanced. Pasco was the highest finisher at seventh (girls and boys). As for the girls none advanced as individuals but the highest finisher was Pasco’s Katelyn Eble (23rd, 20:55.22).