Sickles senior Abdin Fator is going to great lengths -- from Tampa to Titusville to Tallahassee -- to establish himself as Hillsborough County's premier male runner.
The slender Sudan native won his fourth race of the season Saturday in the Panhandle, overtaking Newsome's Lars Benner on the steep final stretch to win the boys silver (invitational) event at the FSU Invitational/Pre-State meet at Apalachee Regional Park.
The event, staged on the same course that will host next month's state meet, drew dozens of locals competing in various races.
Fator, noted as a strong finisher, prevailed in 16 minutes, 14 seconds. Jesuit junior Tim O'Loughlin was two seconds behind, followed by Benner (16:19). Seffner Christian senior Josh Keenan (16:27) was fifth.
"Let's say I had to work my way to the lead pack," Fator said Sunday.
Jesuit finished third in the team standings (202 points), with sophomore Hunter Revord placing 27th (17:04). Sickles was sixth (263).
Sickles senior Abby Grant placed 10th (20:11) in the girls silver event.
Other top Hillsborough County finishers in Tallahassee included Steinbrenner senior Matt Magee, 18th in the boys elite race (16:05), the day's signature event. Classmate Tyler Lima was 12 spots back (16:21).
Plant senior Julia Rodriguez placed 13th in the girls elite race (18:40), five spots ahead of Newsome senior Brianna Jackson (19:04). Senior Caroline Gibson (32nd) and junior Anna Montgomery (36th) also had top-40 finishes for reigning Class 4A state champ Plant, which placed third in the team standings.
Steinbrenner's Lauren Garris placed 29th in the girls large-school race, while Berkeley Prep's Georgette Price was 22nd in the girls small-school event.
At Land O'Lakes, Newsome senior Justin Martinez placed ninth (17:10) in the Gator Invitational, staged on a course of pavement and wooded trails in northern Pasco County's Crews Lake Park.
Freedom's Annie Tedesco was third in the girls race (20:13), with Newsome's Emily Zwijacz (20:25) and Gaither's Rachel Cazares (20:35) placing sixth and ninth, respectively.