DADE CITY — She could have suffered jitters in triplicate. The two re-starts that disrupted the commencement of Saturday morning’s Class A girls cross country final could have thrown Katelyn Greenleaf’s timing off.
Instead, they took the edge off.
“My teammates would probably agree with me that that kind of calmed us down a little bit,” she said.
The tranquility led to personal triumph. A six-time state qualifier, Greenleaf navigated the hilly grass course of Little Everglades Ranch in 18:33.86 for a career-best third-place finish in her prep finale.
No other Pinellas County competitor finished better on a warm, windless morning in northeast Pasco County, though Seminole senior Jacob Hudak — fourth in the 4A boys race — came close.
“I’m really, really happy,” said Greenleaf, who finished in the top 10 for the fifth consecutive season.
“I didn’t get my time, but I’m more than happy with my finish at state. My goal was to get in the top three and I got that today, and I’m just really happy I didn’t pass out.”
Hudak, by contrast, just plain passed.
In a furious final kick over the last 1,000 or so meters, Hudak moved from eighth to fourth, picking off competitors and missing out on a third-place finish only when Plant senior Travis Christenberry overtook him in the waning meters.
His time (15:43.13) was a personal record, exceeding his previous best established on this same course a month before.
“I got a little bit overwhelmed at the beginning, and just tried to stay in there as long as I could and then just tried to run down the field the last 1,000 meters,” Hudak said. “It’s a great accomplishment; I feel thankful for it.”
Hudak’s effort highlighted a fourth-place finish for the Warhawks in the final meet for longtime coach Bruce Calhoun, retiring after nearly three decades. Senior Keegan Flynn, running in a congested pack about a minute behind the leaders, placed 21st (16:16.66).
No other Pinellas competitor earned a top-10 finish, though Northside Christian’s girls placed seventh (228 points), one spot ahead of Shorecrest (256).
Indian Rocks Christian freshman Bobbi Labrant placed 19th individually in the A girls race (19:56.81), while Northside Christian’s Mario Ojeda was 15th in A boys (16:56.81). Osceola senior Alexis Irwin capped her career with a 19th-place effort in the 3A girls race (19:13.55).