MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
TAMPA — The discerning distance-running enthusiast may have noticed the initial snapshots of the local girls cross country season have been missing some prominent runners.
Until physicians clear them, Photoshop is their only hope of entering the picture for now.
No fewer than three state-medal-caliber competitors are on the shelf, and may not fully arrive until the crisp weather does. The most noticeable absentee is Academy of the Holy Names sophomore Colleen Doherty (pictured), nursing a left stress fracture in her shin.
Doherty, fifth at last season’s Class 2A state meet, attended Saturday’s West Hillsborough Invitational (which she won in 2011) but didn’t race. She said the fracture was detected very early by an MRI but doesn’t have a solid timetable for a return.
Elsewhere, Plant sophomore Erica Oosterhout, the state champion Panthers’ No. 5 finisher at last season’s 4A meet, is recovering from surgery following a knee injury sustained during club soccer in May.
Coach Roy Harrison said last week that Oosterhout — 28th overall at the state meet — is “back running a little bit” but hasn’t been released by her doctor yet.
At Sickles, senior Sarah Hartman, a three-time state qualifier and 3A district champion, also is battling a stress fracture and slowly is working her way back into the Gryphons lineup.
To be eligible for the postseason (i.e. districts, regionals, state), the runners must compete in at least four regular season races.
Race day at Durant: Sixteen Hillsborough County public schools, and a handful of private schools, will convene Thursday afternoon at Durant High for the annual Ron Frost Invitational. Action starts at 5.
The public schools confirmed: Alonso, Blake, Bloomingdale, Brandon, Durant, East Bay, Jefferson, Plant City, Riverview, Robinson, Spoto, Strawberry Crest, Tampa Bay Tech, Middleton, Gaither and Wharton.
On Saturday, at least three area teams — Plant, Seffner Christian and Steinbrenner — venture south for the North Port Invitational, a stern early-season test featuring more than 40 schools.
That same morning, roughly a half-dozen local teams, including Sickles, will compete on New Port Richey’s grassy Starkey Park course in the Mitchell Invitational (7:30 a.m. start). Another six teams converge at King for the Central Hillsborough Invitational (8 a.m.).
They said it
“He’s training a lot harder. He’s a year older, he’s a little wiser. He trains like an animal.” -- Sickles coach Dave Rittenour on No. 1 Gryphons boys runner Abdin Fator. After a dismal 2011 postseason, Fator won Saturday’s West Hillsborough Invitational on a road-heavy course (16:02) and placed fourth (16:32) at the 24-team Lecanto Invitational on Sept. 8.
Boys Honor Roll
1. Lars Benner, Newsome. Has won his first two races, both staged on his home course
2. Abdin Fator, Sickles. Showed his newfound fifth gear at West Hillsborough Invitational
3. Tyler Lima, Steinbrenner. Edged by Fator in his last two races
4. Matt Magee, Steinbrenner. Placed second on daunting course at Lecanto Invitational
5. Josh Keenan, Seffner Chr. Seventh on hilly Lakeland course at Jim Ryun Invitational
6. Tim O’Loughlin, Jesuit. Tigers’ top runner was fourth at West Hillsborough
Girls Honor Roll
1. Claire Snyder, Holy Names. Only runner to eclipse 19 minutes at West Hillsborough
2. Julia Rodriguez, Plant. 2nd at West Hillsborough, but was held back by coach
3. Brianna Jackson, Newsome. Like Benner, has won both races on her home course
4. Caroline Gibson, Plant. Senior had encouraging third-place finish at West Hillsborough
5. Julia Deyoung, Robinson. Top-five finish in both races to this point.
5 (tie). Scarlett Fox, Plant. Could make serious noise at North Port Invitational