SHADY HILLS — While one dynasty continued for Wiregrass Ranch on Friday afternoon, another ended.
The Bulls emerged with a fifth consecutive district title when the girls won the Class 3A, District 6 championship at Crews Lake Park, but after four years of hoisting the trophy, the boys had to settle for runnerup.
“We just had to relax and run our race,” Wiregrass Ranch coach Don Howard said. “The girls did that, and the rest took care of itself.”
Wiregrass Ranch (47 points) defeated Sarasota (76) thanks in large part to standout Nikita Shah’s first individual district title. The senior crossed the line in 18 minutes, 39 seconds, following up a second-place finish in this race as a junior and third as a sophomore.
“It feels really good to finally win district,” Shah said. “People say this is an especially tough district, but I think that works in our favor.”
Seven Bulls crossed in the top 20 but only Shah, Berlin Waters (sixth), Elise Cedre (11th), Addie Cornwell (14th), and Emily Payne (15th) qualified for points. Waters (20:14) and Cedre (20:54) placed in the top 13, the bar set for individuals to qualify for the Class 3A, Region 2 meet in Lecanto.
Mitchell’s Claudia Cancello (19:07) crossed in third place, four seconds behind Belleview’s Catherine Blaney. Teammate Emily Kerns (20:37) was the next North Suncoast runner to finish, when she made her last strides in 10th place. Elaina Cancello (21:00) placed 12th for the second straight season. Because the Mustangs finished out of the top four, Kerns and the Cancello twins will be the only area runners to make region not from Wiregrass.
Sarasota (31) dethroned Wiregrass (51) as the boys champions with Zackery Summerall (16:00) leading the charge and teammate Courtland Bernard (16:09) taking second.
Host Land O’Lakes (64) placed third to move on to region, but most impressive may have been the efforts of Travis Nichols, Tyler Stahl and Jake Poore. Nichols (16:20), who won district last season, finished third. Stahl (16:28), a fifth-place finisher in 2011, crossed fourth this time. Poore (16:50) improved on a 12th-place district finish in 2011 to cross in sixth.
“(Summerall and Bernard) broke away in the last 800 meters,” Nichols said. “It was a little hot out there, but that wasn’t an advantage for anyone.”
Wiregrass senior Ermias Bireda (16:49) finished fifth, in the top 10 for the third straight season. The Bulls followed with Thor Alastre (16:52) in seventh, Patrick Hill (17:07) 10th and Benjamin Hall (17:18) 12th.
Crews Lake Park, Shady Hills
Team: Sarasota 31, Wiregrass Ranch 51, Land O’Lakes 64, Belleview 136, Lecanto 162, Mitchell 165, Springstead 165, Sunlake 221, Central 274, Citrus 276, River Ridge 303, Zephyrhills 368
Individual: Summerall (Sar) 16:00, Bernard (Sar) 16:09, Nichols (LOL) 16:20, Stahl (LOL) 16:28, Bireda (WR) 16:49, Poore (LOL) 16:50, Alastre (WR) 16:52, Bradtmueller (Sar) 16:56, Hull (Sar) 17:02, Hill (WR) 17:07, Drumm (Sar) 17:14, Hall (WR) 17:18, Beauplan (Bel) 17:29
Team: Wiregrass Ranch 35, Belleview 73, Mitchell 91, Sarasota 102, Springstead 110, Lecanto 121, Land O’Lakes 140, Central 248, Sunlake 277, River Ridge 306
Individual: Shah (WR) 18:39, Blaney (Bel) 19:03, C. Cancello (Mit) 19:07, Grebe (Sar) 19:27, Weber (Cit) 20:12, Waters (WR) 20:14, Yero (Bel) 20:18, Benoist (Lec) 20:35, Farnsworth (Lec) 20:36, Kerns (Mit) 20:37, Cedre (WR) 20:54, E. Cancello (Mit) 21:00, Kerry (WR) 21:09