TAMPA — As expected, two of the county’s upper-tier girls runners — Wharton’s Abby Ritter and King’s Dayna Cline — were among the dozens who convened early Tuesday evening at King High.
Problem was, they were in training attire. With larger races either on their immediate horizon or in their wake, a few of the Central Hillsborough Invitational’s penciled-in teams simply declined the invitation to the annual event.
Not that a minimized field lessened the brace-toothed grin on Hillsborough junior Katie Lutton’s face at the finish line.
Lutton, eighth at last season’s county meet, led wire to wire in her debut race of 2010, prevailing in 20:47 on a grassy course that meandered mostly around King’s athletic fields. Middleton senior Amber Brooks was a distant second (21:08).
“I think I did pretty well; the first meet of the season I’m proud of myself for that,” said Lutton, an International Baccalaureate student who has earned straight As — with the exception of one B — in high school. “I could’ve pushed a little more in the middle and the end, I think.”
Also coasting was the Chamberlain tandem of junior Max del Monte and Jake Covington. Four days after trudging through a muddy Ed Radice Park course in the FACA Classic, the pair ran at a predetermined pace but still won the boys race by more than a minute.
Del Monte’s time (16:42) was one second better than Covington’s and nearly a minute better than third-place teammate Sean Russo’s (17:41). Del Monte, fifth (16:10.94) in the boys elite race at the FACA Classic, said he and Covington were trying to keep a pace of 5:30 per mile.