DUNEDIN — As expected, Seminole’s Mary Hall and Rachel Hayduke were the top two girls across the finish line Wednesday at the Palm Harbor Invitational.
Hall and Hayduke staged their own dual with Hall finishing ahead by just two seconds (20:35-20:37).
The unexpected came with the next wave of runners.
Palm Harbor University’s Brianna Paczynski was third (21:41), followed by Largo’s Marina Levine (21:42).
Levine was the only Packer in the top five. Still, Largo won the team title with 44 points because of its strength in numbers, something the Packers have not had the past few years.
Last year Largo had just three runners. The numbers are up to 16 this season after getting a lot of last-minute freshman recruits.
“It’s a rare win and a nice treat,” Packers coach Ray Morrison said.
In the boys race, Seminole, despite not fielding a full lineup, outscored Countryside 47-56 to win the title.
Chase Sutton, the Warhawks’ top runner, did not run on Wednesday. Coach Bruce Calhoun decided to hold out some of his top runners because this was the first time his team ran the Hammock Park course. He also wanted to get his runners ready for the conference meet in two weeks.
“There was unfamiliarity, and we went with less than a full squad,” Calhoun said. “I’m surprised we did so well. All our guys just went out and tried.”
The Cougars’ Ricy Brown took first in 16:55. Palm Harbor University’s Luke Buschman was second (17:27), followed by Countryside’s Nick Fineo (17:42) and Clearwater’s Cody Sandford (17:49).
Seminole’s top runner was Keegan Flynn, who finished fifth in 18:07.