ST. PETERSBURG — With no other county opponent able to match their depth or speed, the Shorecrest girls have administered a thrashing to every cross country team in Pinellas they have faced.
The Chargers have constantly invented challenges to keep them interested in a season that has been filled with nondescript wins. Ultimately, the only standard by which Shorecrest’s girls can judge themselves is their own expectations.
What the Chargers expect is a chance to compete for a top-three finish at Saturday’s Class A state meet.
“That’s what we’ve been talking about all year,” Shorecrest junior Alex Eaton said. “We all felt we could get into the top three, and that’s pushed through each workout and race.”
On paper, things have lined up nicely.
Shorecrest won the small-school race of the flrunners.com invitational two months ago. The Chargers continued to put up impressive performances, winning team titles at the St. Petersburg City Meet, as well as Bay Conference and district meets. In a preview of the state meet, flrunners had the Chargers among the top three teams.
“As coaches we haven’t really talked to the girls about where we think we could finish,” Shorecrest coach Jeff Raab said. “But the team has been so strong this year and after mapping things out the past week, a top-three finish is definitely within range.”
The Chargers’ toughest competition will come from Jacksonville Providence, Gainesville Oak Hall and Melbourne Holy Trinity, the top three teams at last year’s state meet.
Shorecrest already was a solid contender with nearly everyone returning from last year’s team that finished eighth. The addition of St. Petersburg transfer Eaton vaulted the Chargers into elite status.
Eaton has been dominant this year, winning conference and district titles. Last week, she lost to defending state champion Julie Wollrath of Holy Trinity in the region meet. But Eaton’s time of 18 minutes, 18 seconds was the second fastest in the state based off results from region meets.
“My goal is to run under 18 minutes and be in the top two or three,” Eaton said.
Shorecrest also has Olivia Rovin and Savannah Broome, each capable of finishing in the top 20.
The only disadvantage for the Chargers is unfamiliarity with the course at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee.
“This is the first time the state meet is there,” Raab said. “We didn’t run in the pre-state meet so we’re not quite sure what to expect as far as hills and things like that.”
To get acclimated, Shorecrest is traveling Friday and will have a workout on the course. Eaton also said she has watched videos from the pre-state meet to figure out the layout.
“We just want to go in as prepared as possible,” Eaton said. “We’re running our best right now and everyone is setting their personal bests in times the past two weeks. I think we’re ready.”
When/where: Saturday. Apalachee Regional Park, Tallahassee
Schedule: The Class 2A girls kick things off at 8 a.m., with another race every 25 minutes. The Class A boys close things out at 10:55.
Admission: $9; parking is free
Local boys: Admiral Farragut — Adam Burrell, Nima Beheshti, Mike Hajek, Patrick McNamara, Simon Wang; Clearwater — Stephen Sawayda; Clearwater Central Catholic — Matt Adan, Billy Englert, Chris Kieler, Saul Ramirez, Brennan Robinson; Countryside — Paul McKenna; Indian Rocks Christian — Luke Boeche, Michael Cavonis, Cole Krajeski, Trevor Quandt, Zach Trador; Keswick Christian — Jacob Endrulat; Osceola — Reggie Cape, Tom Grzesiakowski, Ryan Hoge, Abimael Jimenez, Hunter McCann; St. Petersburg — Declan Abernathy, Sam Chandler, Semmes Bruce, Chad Hunter, Trent Small-Towns; St. Petersburg Catholic — Jack Armstrong, Manuel Carmona, Connor Cureton, Drew Cusson, Emilio Ycaza; Seminole — Jett Halterman, Jared Hayduke, Lorenzo Long, Iain Marsh, Sam Weller; Shorecrest — Jean Jouffroy, Josh Miles, Luke Peterson, Ross Porter, Justin Scoby
Local girls: Calvary Christian — Hannah Brookover; Clearwater Central Catholic — Saphara Harrell; Indian Rocks Christian — Jordyn Bench, Kayla Hewel, Rachel Kistemaker, Bobbi LaBrant, Jordan Mott; Northeast — Amanda Spring; Palm Harbor University — Brianna Paczynski, Sarah Swallow; St. Petersburg — Erin Waterman; Seminole — Maddie Cappelli, Miranda Gale, Maddie Stubbs, Olivia Suski, Jasmine Whitney; Shorecrest — Savannah Broome, Alice Darrow, Alex Eaton, Kai Greenlees, Olivia Rovin