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NEW PORT RICHEY — From start to finish, there was no looking back for Durant’s Grace VanDeGrift.
The senior led throughout Saturday morning’s Class 3A, Region 2 meet and punched her ticket to state by placing first in 18:05.58 at Starkey Park.
“It’s my senior year and I just wanted to do my best,” VanDeGrift said. “I have never won a region meet before, so it was great to come in here and win. I’m ready for the state meet next week.”
Durant finished in 10th place with 216 points, 151 behind first-place Wiregrass Ranch. King’s Dayna Cline took fifth (19:17.02) and Armwood’s Amber Duncan (19:33.05) seventh.
Other notables included Hillsborough’s Katherine Lutton (19:49.31, ninth) and Sickles’ Sarah Hartman (19:53.13, 11th), who also qualified for state.
On the boys side, Sickles finished fifth with 151 points, with Wiregrass Ranch again taking lead honors with 40. George Jenkins’ Alex Foss was first in 15:55.97.
Durant’s Michael Eidge was the highest-placing county individual (16:10.66, fourth).
“The course was great today and I set a personal record by 45 seconds,” Eidge said. “I didn’t expect this today, but the weather was great and I’m excited to make it to states. My teammates were excited about my finish, but they all did well, too.”
Also advancing to state: Armwood’s Brandon Duncan (16:18.58, seventh), East Bay’s Olen Dalton (16:34.98, 11th) and Hillsborough’s Fabian Woodard (16:39.78, 14th).