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CC preview: del Monte braces for biggest rival

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Wed. September 7, 2011 | Joey Knight | Email

CC preview: del Monte braces for biggest rival

The county's top boys runner, by several strides, knows where his fiercest competition resides.

It's not necessarily in Miami, though Belen Jesuit's Elliot Clemente could accompany him down the straightaway of the Class 3A final. And it's in neither Tallahassee nor Titusville nor even Tampa. To the contrary, Max del Monte's biggest rival lurks within.

"I think the biggest goal for me right now will be to beat Max del Monte," said the home-schooled Chamberlain senior, nary a trace of arrogance in his tone.

"I know that sounds kind of weird, but I think people get caught up running against time and opponents. I think that gets people motivated and fired up, but I'm personally not going to worry about that. I'm just going to go out there every weekend and be the best I can be that day.

"As long as I can beat Max del Monte on that day, then I've accomplished that goal."

But what, exactly, does that entail? How will del Monte, fifth at last season's Class 4A meet and the school record-holder in the 1,600 meters (4:12.51), outrun himself in a season brimming with potential?

By discovering his physical and mental limits, and surpassing them. For del Monte, the state's No. 2 Class 3A runner (behind Clemente) in the FACA/flrunners.com preseason rankings, such an approach may be his best chance at becoming Hillsborough County's first individual boys state champ since 2003.

Unlike previous years, when running partners included 2009 4A state runnerup Mark Parrish (now at Florida) and 2010 top-20 state finisher Jake Covington, del Monte has no one at Chiefs workouts ready to seriously push him yet.

So he'll push himself, which he did most of the summer through weeks that included up to 90 miles.

"If I can cross the finish line and look back and know that I left everything that I had on the course and I just suffered to the point of exhaustion and completely died at the end ...then I know I can be happy at the end of the day," del Monte said.

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