DADE CITY — In the final cross country race of his high school career, Seminole’s Chase Sutton staggered though the chute, a kind of processing center and welcoming wagon for the runners who cross the finish.
Sutton tried to stay upright, but wobbled over to a side rail, his eyes rolling toward the back of his head. A volunteer helped steer him straight. But at this point, merely walking was a challenge.
“It was my last race, and it was tough,” Sutton said. “I couldn’t open my eyes or stand up. I just wanted to give everything I had.”
From the start of the Class 4A meet, Sutton was intent on staying with the lead pack in hopes of finishing among the top three.
After a strong early surge that kept him in contention until the midpoint of the race, Sutton reached his limit and fell back. Still, he refused to give up, finishing sixth in 15 minutes, 23.03 seconds. It was the highest Sutton has placed at a state meet.
“I was pleased with my effort,” Sutton said. “I put everything I had into the race. There’s not much more I could have done.”
The only other county runner who placed in the top 10 was Northside Christian’s Katelyn Greenleaf, who took ninth in Class A in 18:39.22. Her time was a personal record on the Little Everglades course.
“The first lead pack was spread out,” Greenleaf said. “The first few runners were far ahead so I tried to stay within the rest of the leaders. It was a tough race. My legs were super tired. But I’m happy with my time.”
In the 3A girls race, Osceola’s Alexis Irwin took 18th in a personal-best 19:10.86, the highest finish by a county runner in that classification.
“I had to push myself the whole way,” Irwin said. “This is one of the toughest courses because the hills are gradual all the way through. I was hoping to be in the top 15, but I’m pleased because I beat my previous personal record by 10 seconds.”
Northside Christian’s boys, who won their first district and region titles this season, finished seventh overall in Class A, highest by a county team. The Mustangs’ No. 1 runner, Mario Ojeda, took 30th in 17:05.12. Admiral Farragut’s Blake Arnold was 29th in 17:04.96.