Seminole’s Chase Sutton and Northside Christian’s Katelyn Greenleaf knew it would be easy to flourish this cross country season.
After all, Sutton and Greenleaf, the St. Petersburg Times’ 2009 runners of the year, were returning and running against a county field struggling with numbers after being hurt by graduation.
So it was only natural for coaches to skip the formalities and tab each as the top runner — again — and favorite to win most meets.
Because there were few to push them, Sutton and Greenleaf knew they would have to be the pacesetters, not only for themselves, but for the county.
Neither runner disappointed. Sutton and Greenleaf won nearly every major race against county competition. Needing a challenge from something other than the competition, Sutton and Greenleaf have spent most races running under the tyranny of a clock.
So rather than chase after gold-plated hardware at this week’s state meet, both are running for a sense of goals achieved, potential consummated. Each is hoping for a top-three finish. But it is time, the medium in which all runners flourish or fail, that is especially precious to Sutton and Greenleaf.
Each wants to finish with a personal record.
“I don’t really have a specific time set as the goal,” Sutton said. “I would like to get in the low 15s (minutes). Maybe go around 15:20.”
It is a realistic target for Sutton in Saturday’s Class 4A meet, considering he has lowered his time in every race this season. He’ll have to keep the lead pack in sight as he tries to reel in as many runners before the finish.
“A fast start is important because it is hard to make up ground at a state meet,” Warhawks coach Bruce Calhoun said. “You have to be there at the beginning.”
Greenleaf, who has been dominant locally, has the misfortune of being in Class A, perhaps the toughest in the state. The lead runners will be Community School of Naples’ twin sisters Kathryn and Erika Fluehr. Greenleaf will most likely be trailing but will be in contention for third place.
“I will have to run really well to get into the top three,” Greenleaf said. “It’s something I think I can do. But the biggest is setting another personal record. I would like to run around 18:15-20.”
When/where: Saturday; Little Everglades Ranch, Dade City
Race times: Class 4A girls, 7:30 a.m.; Class A girls, 7:55 a.m.; Class 4A boys, 8:20 a.m.; Class 1A boys, 8:45; Class 2A girls, 9:05 a.m.; Class 3A girls, 9:30 a.m.; Class 2A boys, 9:55 a.m.; Class 3A boys, 10:20 a.m.
Admission: $8; FHSAA passes only. Parking is $5
Boys: Countryside – Ricy Brown; Seminole – Chase Sutton
Girls: St. Petersburg – Alex Eaton, Erin Waterman, Savannah Dearden, Caroline Krueger, Andrea Schmidt; Seminole – Mary Hall
Boys: Dunedin – Shane Deeley, Zach Maciolek; Largo – Tyler Lewis
Girls: Osceola – Alexis Irwin, Kaylie Murphy, Kristen Brittain, Sarah Sykes, Sarah Folks
Boys: Admiral Farragut – Blake Arnold; Northside Christian – Mario Ojeda, Joe Chapman, Kyle Riffe, Matthew Montanari, Garet Marr; Shorecrest – Caelum Schandle, John Scoby, Jean Jouffroy, Luke Peterson, Ross Porter
Girls: Indian Rocks Christian – Bobbi LaBrant, Tori Trador, Rachel Kistemaker, Kayla Hewel, Jordyn Bench; Keswick Christian – Ellie Palm, Hannah Palm, Katie McNees, Mary Jacubec, Alyssa Bowman; Northside Christian – Katelyn Greenleaf, Victoria Goodwin, Courtney Heron, Al Konstantinovic, Caillin Heron