An absolutely breathtaking north-central Florida morning became even more blissful once the coaches at Indian Rocks Christian and Seffner Christian scanned the results of the Class 1A, Region 2 championships.
Both Golden Eagles teams, as well as the SCA boys, earned spots in next weekend's state meet with top-six region finishes on the rolling hillside course at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville. Both IRC teams finished sixth, while the SCA boys finished third.
The short-handed Crusaders girls failed to qualify as a team, but junior Sabrina Whiting placed 11th in 20:33.20 to earn a state berth as an individual. Calvary Christian freshman Hannah Brookover, the reigning District 8 champion, placed fifth (19:22.60) to lead all area runners.
The top six teams and top 15 individuals move on to the Nov. 17 state championships in Tallahassee. The Eagles girls finished with 177 points, only five more than the Crusaders, who placed eighth. Sophomore Bobbi LaBrant placed 13th (20:39.06) to lead the Eagles.
"I didn't think they'd be near anything, and to be within five points, they laid it on the line," said SCA coach Andy Holmes, missing No. 2 runner Celi Guzman (calf). "Sabrina probably ran her best race of the year."
On the boys side, SCA senior Josh Keenan followed his district-title effort with an eighth-place finish (16:48.85) to lead all locals. Classmate Noah Lambert placed 13th for the Crusaders, whose 112 team points were one behind runner-up Gainesville P.K. Yonge.
IRC's boys were led by 14th-place junior Trevor Quandt (17:15.15). Tampa Prep junior Oscar Skjaerpe finished one spot behind (17:23.40) to earn the final qualifying berth for state.
"We knew we had a shot for second, but it really came down to our (No.) 3 and 4 kids getting passed at the end by a few kids, and Josh had an off-race," Holmes said. "I'm not going to fault him; he has busted his butt all year. He went out too hard the first mile, he thought. Overall they ran tough, they ran where I thought they would."
3A-3: After winning conference and district titles, Northeast’s Amanda Spring had a tougher time staying in front of the pack in Friday’s meet at Estero. Spring finished fifth in 19:47 and held the distinction of being the only bay area runner, boy or girl, to advance as an individual to next weekend’s state meet.
The top 15 runners and top six teams advance to state. Largo’s Marina Levine just missed the cut, finishing 18th in 20:46. Brandon’s Eliana Ochoa was 37th in 21:49, the best among Hillsborough County girls.
Osceola’s boys, who have had a breakthrough season with conference and region team titles, finished sixth to qualify for states. Hunter McCann was the highest finisher for the Warriors, placing 24th in 17:45.
Armwood’s Mohammed Tamari was 39th in 18:18, tops among Hillsborough County boys.