ST. PETERSBURG — Boca Ciega’s Alexis Stevens decided to turn Thursday’s Viking Invitational into a sprint rather than a test of endurance.
When the whistle sounded at the start of the girls race, Stevens broke for the lead with only a handful of runners beside her.
They did not have her company for long. By the time Stevens passed the first mile, she was ahead of the field and stayed there.
The only anxious moment came in the final mile when some coaches mentioned that two runners were five seconds behind.
Stevens had the wherewithal to hold off the challenge, winning in 20 minutes, 6 seconds. Indian Rocks Christian’s Bobbi LaBrant was second (20:26), followed by Northeast’s Caroline Condon (20:45).
“This is probably the biggest win I’ve ever had,” Stevens said. “I told my boss at work that I was going to win this race and I did everything in my power to make that happen. I wanted to go out as fast as I possibly could to go for it. This is a proud moment for me.”
Stevens helped the Pirates win the team title, outscoring Osceola 62-63. St. Petersburg’s Megan Fitzgerald was fourth (20:47) and the Warriors’ Fatima Abu-Rumann was fifth (21:10).
In the boys race, Osceola’s Hunter McCann used a different tactic as he waited behind the lead pack before reeling in runners ahead of him with a devastating kick.
By the second mile, McCann took the lead and never relinquished it, finishing first in 16:42. Not far behind was teammate Abimael Jimenez, who was second in 16:50, followed by Indian Rocks Christian’s Trevor Quandt (16:52), St. Petersburg’s Semmes Bruce (17:05) and Northeast’s Nick Spring (17:10).
“I lost my first race of the season on this course, and I made some mistakes,” said McCann, who has since won three straight races. “I was motivated for this one, and I usually do well when I have the revenge factor working for me.”
Osceola and Northeast each finished with 49 points, but the Warriors won the team title because their No. 6 runner finished higher.
Team scores: Osceola 49, Northeast 49, Indian Rocks Christian 69, St. Petersburg 133, Braden River 153, Clearwater 163, Lakewood 250, Bradenton Manatee 333, Dixie Hollins 370, Boca Ciega 410, Keswick Christian 546
Results: McCann (Osc) 16:42, Jimenez (Osc) 16:50, Quandt (IRC) 16:52, Bruce (SP) 17:05, Spring (Ne) 17:10, Cape (Osc) 17:23, Whitten (Ne) 17:27, Boeche (IRC) 17:37, Trador (IRC) 17:38, Burns (Ne) 17:38
Team scores: Boca Ciega 62, Osceola 63, Bradenton Manatee 89, Northeast 120, Indian Rocks Christian 128, Braden River 134, St. Petersburg 212
Results: Stevens (BC) 20:06, LaBrant (IRC) 20:26, Condon (Ne) 20:45, Fitzgerald (SP) 20:47, Abu-Rumann (Osc) 21:10, Brahm (Ne) 21:20, Boskovic (Osc) 21:28, Giordano (BC) 21:39, Avers (Clw) 21:52, Boreman (BR) 21:55