Northside Christian’s Katelyn Greenleaf has surged ahead of the pack, putting so much distance between herself and the rest of the county competition that her ponytail is the only guidepost for runners to keep track of her.
Greenleaf, the county’s female runner of the year in cross country and track last season, has three straight top-10 finishes at cross country meets.
Better still, she has two years left to improve on those numbers.
The junior is among a handful of underclassmen who have risen to prominence in the county. Besides Greenleaf, five of the seven first-team, all-county selections return. And they’ll be together for a while considering none of them are seniors.
1. Katelyn Greenleaf, Northside Christian: The runner of the year posted four of the county’s top five times last season and won conference and district titles.
2. Alex Eaton, St. Petersburg: The freshman, who transferred from Canterbury, finished 20th at the Class A state meet with a personal-best 19:45
3. Hannah Palm, Keswick Christian: The sophomore is the top runner for one of the county’s premier programs and was 34th at state last season.
4. Alexis Irwin, Osceola: The junior was a top-five finisher at last year’s district and region meets.
5. Victoria Goodwin, Northside Christian: The junior teams with Greenleaf to give the Mustangs a solid 1-2 punch at the top of their lineup.
6. Savannah Broome, Shorecrest: The freshman is the Chargers’ top runner and placed in the top 10 at regionals.
7. Rachel Kistemaker, Keswick Christian: The sophomore ranks among the best private school runners in the area.
Top three teams
1. Keswick Christian: The Crusaders return nearly every key contributor from last year’s team that finished 11th at state.
2. Northside Christian: The Mustangs have the best runner in the county and a strong supporting cast.
3. St. Petersburg: The addition of Eaton could give the Green Devils the edge to vault to the top of the conference standings.
For the fans
District meets, Nov. 1-6: The first six placing teams and top 15 runners in meets in which 14 or fewer teams are entered, and the first eight placing teams and top 15 runners in each meet in which 15 or more teams are entered advance.
Region meets, Nov. 11-13: The first six placing teams and top 15 runners in each meet advance to state.
State finals, Nov. 20: Little Everglades Ranch, Dade City
4A, District 4: Alonso, Bradenton Manatee, Chamberlain, Clearwater, Countryside, East Lake, Freedom, Gaither, Northeast, North Port, Palm Harbor University, Pinellas Park, Plant, Port Charlotte, Riverview, Sarasota, Sarasota Riverview, St. Petersburg, Seminole, Tampa Bay Tech, Wharton.
3A, District 5: Bradenton Bayshore, Boca Ciega, Braden River, Dixie Hollins, Dunedin, Englewood Lemon Bay, Gibbs, Lakewood, Lakewood Ranch, Largo, Osceola, Palmetto, Tarpon Springs
2A, District 5: Academy of the Holy Names, Auburndale, Avon Park, Berkeley Prep, Frostproof, George Steinbrenner, Jesuit, Lake Wales, Lennard, Lakeland McKeel, Lakeland Tenoroc, Middleton, Mulberry, Robinson, Spoto, St. Petersburg Catholic, Strawberry Crest, Tampa Catholic.
A, District 5: Academy at the Lakes, Admiral Farragut, Bayshore Christian, Calvary Christian, Cambridge, Canterbury, Carrollwood Day, Clearwater Central Catholic, Indian Rocks Christian, Keswick Christian, Lakeland Christian, Lakeland Santa Fe, Lake Wales Vanguard, Northside Christian, Seffner Christian, Shorecrest Prep, Tampa Bay Christian, Tampa Prep, Walker Memorial Junior, Winter Haven All Saints,
Independent: Lakeside Christian