LARGO — Throughout her high school career, Palm Harbor University’s Sarah Raymond has divided her time between cross county and soccer.
It’s a difficult juggling act, especially this month with a compressed calendar in which the seasons in both sports overlap. Soccer, Raymond’s first love, started this week. But she skipped Tuesday’s preseason game so she would have enough stamina to compete in Wednesday’s Class 4A, District 8 cross country meet.
The strategy paid off with Raymond finishing second in a personal-record 19 minutes, 28 seconds. She was 13 seconds off the school record set by Emily Ware in 2000.
“Coach (Darryl Southard) wanted me to stay home from the soccer match because it was raining,” Raymond said. “He wanted to make sure I didn’t get sick and got enough rest for this race. It was tough, but it was the right thing to do because I wanted to do my best.”
During the race, Raymond stayed with a pair of runners from North Port, Maddison Krstec and Sydney Guenther. In the final mile, Raymond was able to surge past Guenther for second.
“I felt really good the whole race,” Raymond said. “I wanted to stay with the front-runners. I was battling (Guenther) and was able to overtake her toward the end.”
Raymond also helped the Hurricanes finish third overall with 78 points to advance to next week’s region meet. Teammate Anna Hamilton joined Raymond among the top 15, finishing 12th in 20:33.
“I was glad was able to finish as high as I did and that we’re moving on as a team because they’ve all worked so hard for that,” Raymond said.
North Port, which had five runners in the top 10, won the team title with 30 points.
Seminole, which also had two runners in the top 15, took fourth with 95 points. Olivia Suski was the Warhawks’ top runner, finishing eighth in 20:21. Teammate Eliza Long was 15th (20:39). St. Petersburg’s Megan Fitzgerald advanced as an individual with a 14th-place finish (20:38).
In the boys race, the Green Devils’ Elliot Traxler was fourth in a personal-best 16:55, the highest finish in the county.
Known to push the pace furiously at the start, Traxler took a more patient approach, waiting until the second mile before he took it to another gear.
“It was definitely one of the smartest races I’ve run this season,” he said. “I ran at a real consistent pace and did a lot of workouts this past week that helped with my kick at the end.
“It was a good breakout race for me, and it’ll help me get ready for states.”
Countryside’s Andrew Llewellyn, who won last week’s Pinellas County Athletic Conference title, was fifth in 16:59. Llewellyn said he was congested before the race, the result of a flu-like illness he has been trying to shake for more than a month.
Sarasota Riverview won the boys team title with 32 points, 44 ahead of North Port.
Seminole and St. Petersburg tied with 84. Initially, the Green Devils were ahead by a point but video replays showed the Warhawks’ Lorenzo Long nudged ahead of a North Port runner for seventh place in 17:07, giving Seminole the point needed to force a tie.
The Warhawks took third on a tiebreaker because their sixth runner finished higher.
Seminole’s Iain Marsh also was in the top 15, placing 10th in 17:11. St. Petersburg’s Trent Small-Towns was ninth (17:10). Palm Harbor University’s Adam Fahey (11th, 17:12) and Phillip Mackie (13th, 17:17) advanced to next week’s region meet as individuals.
Class 4A, District 8
At Taylor Park
Boys team scores: Sarasota Riverview 32, North Port 77, St. Petersburg 84, Seminole 85, Palm Harbor University 131, Countryside 132, East Lake 168, Bradenton Manatee 213, Pinellas Park 290
Results: Riley (SR) 16:34, Vokus (SR) 16:46, Grajalez (SR) 16:52, Traxler (SP) 16:55, Llewellyn (Cs) 16:59, Castrovince (NP) 17:00, Long (Sem) 17:07.01, Back (NP)17:07.22, Small-Towns (SP) 17:10, Marsh (Sem) 17:11, Fahey (PHU) 17:12. Natherson (SR) 17:14, Mackie (PHU) 17:17, Berman (SR) 17:21, Moreland (NP) 17:28
Girls team scores: North Port 30, Sarasota Riverview 42, Palm Harbor University 78, Seminole 95, Bradenton Manatee 161, East Lake 163, St. Petersburg 168, Countryside 223, Pinellas Park 276
Results: Krstec (NP) 19:20, Raymond (PHU) 19:28, Guenther (NP) 19:33, Wade (SR) 19:59, Lonas (SR) 20:15, Grajalez (SR) 20:16, Collins (NP) 20:17, Suski (Sem) 20:21, Boethig (NP) 20:21, Weisberger (NP) 20:28, Natherson 20:30, Hamilton (PHU) 20:33, Siegel (EL) 20:35, Fitzgerald (SP) 20:38, Long (Sem) 20:39