BROOKSVILLE — It was a hot, muggy Thursday afternoon at McKethan Lake Park for the Class 3A, District 3 cross country race, but that was the least of the competitors’ problems.
Two boxers ran wild on the course only hours before the race was scheduled to begin, and administrators were forced to call in Eddie Duval of the Division of Forestry.
When the forest rangers were unable to catch the dogs, Hernando County Sheriff’s deputies and other officials stayed on hand to make sure the runners could compete safely.
The race went off without a hitch as the Wiregrass Ranch boys (33 points) and girls (37) swept the district team titles for the third consecutive year.
In a true team effort, Josh Reilly finished in 16 minutes, 16 seconds, winning his first individual district title with Ryan Pulsifer (16:23) not far behind. Four other boys stood in the top 15 for Wiregrass before the race was over.
“It’s always fun for the whole team to sweep and get those rewards,” Pulsifer said. “I took the pace so Josh could take over at the end.”
Although Nikita Shah (18:56) couldn’t equal her runnerup finish from last season, she crossed the line third to lead her team, and four other Bulls crossed in the top 15.
The top local runner was Mitchell’s Kelli Williams (18:46). The senior finished as runnerup to Belleview’s Anne-Marie Blaney, who won her second of back-to-back titles. Williams won a district title as a sophomore when Mitchell was in District 4A-4.
“I expected to be one of the favorites,” Williams said. “I knew I wasn’t going to be alone, but I like that better. I love this course. It’s one of my favorites. I love the competition and the girls I have to run against.”
Springstead (113 points), which was expected to challenge, placed third behind Wiregrass and Gulf (104). Mikayla Bogulski was the lone Eagle in the top 15. The team had an illness strike the roster this week, but it should be 100 percent for next week’s regionals.