MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
Runner of the Year: Abdin Fator, Sr., Sickles
Why we picked him: A Sudan native (his family’s escape from its native country’s oppression was the subject of a Tampa Bay Times story), Fator’s breakthrough senior year featured six victories and two runnerup finishes. Following the most disciplined offseason of his career, he opened the fall by winning the West Hillsborough Invitational at Al Lopez Park, and never really backtracked. His highlights — wins at the county championships; FSU Pre-State (boys invitational division); flrunners.com Invitational (boys large school division); and Class 3A, District 8 meet. He placed second at the Region 2 championships, and finished the season with a 19th-place effort in the 3A race in 16:04.23 (arguably the deepest classification) at state.
Proudest accomplishment: It occurred before he ever reached the season’s first starting line. Admittedly short on prudence and self-discipline in previous summers, Fator followed coach Gail Bottone’s offseason program to the letter, essentially swore off junk food and showed up for the 2012 season in the best shape of his life. “My mind was ready,” said Fator, 13th at the district meet and 52nd at regionals as a junior. “I put in the work over the summer.”
Future plans: Fator hopes to run in college and pursue a science-related degree (such as exercise science or physical therapy). He has received overtures from FSU and North Florida, his two favorites.
Did you know? Fator, who has lived in the United States nearly a decade, was a Sickles wideout as a freshman. His distance-running career essentially began the following track season, when he coasted to a 2:16 time in his first 800-meter race in a meet at Steinbrenner. “He was jogging,” former teammate Jonathon Bermudez recalled. Prodded incessantly by teammates and coaches, he became a full-time runner shortly thereafter. “The first day I saw him, I saw how he was built, and I said if he sticks with it, he’s going to be one of the best runners ever to come through Sickles,” said Bermudez, who accompanied Fator to a Times photo shoot Wednesday. “And we’re here now.”
Lars Benner, Sr., Newsome. County runnerup placed 11th at 4A state meet (15:58.05)
Josh Keenan, Sr., Seffner Christian. District champ was 10th at A state meet (16:25.13)
Tyler Lima, Sr., Steinbrenner. Top-six finisher at county, district, region meets
Matt Magee, Sr., Steinbrenner. Warriors’ top finisher (11th, 15:56.75) at 3A state meet
Tim O’Loughlin, Jr., Jesuit. 2A district, region champ; third at state meet (16:06.48)
Tanner Biles, Sr., Steinbrenner
Max Borland, So., Berkeley Prep
Travis Lucas, Sr., Plant
Justin Martinez, Sr., Newsome
Bryce Weaver, Sr., Plant
Berkeley Prep: Greg Longbottom, John Hill; Bloomingdale: Andrew LeBlanc; Freedom: Adam Urbaniak; Jesuit: Danny Alvarez, Hunter Revord, Phillip Robbins; Middleton: Daniel Dean; Plant: Carlos Andino, Jack Guyton, Lawson Jaffe, Jason Mersereau; Robinson: Fredrick Stanford; Seffner Christian: Noah Lambert; Sickles: David Piatt, James Zentmeyer; Steinbrenner: Chris Cerreta, Zach Lima; Tampa Prep: Oscar Skjaerpe
Coach of the Year
Greg Maurin, Jesuit. Despite having no seniors among his top six runners, Maurin led the Tigers to the Class 2A, District 9 title as well as third-place finishes at the region and state meets.
Runner of the Year: Claire Snyder, Jr., Academy of the Holy Names
Why we picked her: A repeat winner of this award, Snyder, who transferred from Tampa Prep in the offseason, capped another sparkling autumn with a fifth-place finish (18:51.96) at the Class 2A state meet. Her state placing was the county’s best, and her time was second-best (a second shy of Plant’s Julia Rodriguez). A repeat county champ (where she overtook Rodriguez in the final 400 meters), Snyder won five races including the Class 2A, District 9 and Region 3 meets.
Proudest accomplishment: The county championship. In a clash of migraines and mucus buildup, Snyder (still battling nasty, cold-like symptoms) rallied past Rodriguez (who only recently had been diagnosed with mononucleosis). “It was just, like, congestion everywhere,” said Snyder, who finished in 19:21.80. “My nose, headaches, and it was a gross cough.”
Future plans: Snyder, who owns a 4.6 weighted GPA, would like to run in college, but not at the expense of her academic preferences. Fortunately for her, the top three schools on her list — Princeton, Penn and Villanova — all have solid distance programs. “I’m not going to a school I’m not interested in just for running,” she said.
Did you know? Essentially inactive the summer before her breakthrough sophomore season, Snyder estimates she logged between 150-200 miles this past summer, and even attended the All-American Cross Country Camp in Asheville, N.C. …Her advanced-placement class schedule — AP courses in English, Latin and U.S. history, as well as pre-calculus, ethics and physics. …The youngest of two children, she has played the flute since sixth grade.
Scarlett Fox, Sr., Plant. District champ was 12th (18:58.47) at 4A state meet
Brianna Jackson, Sr., Newsome. Capped resurgent year with district, region titles
Anna Montgomery, Jr., Plant. Among top seven at county, district, region; 20th at state (19:24.24)
Julia Rodriguez, Sr., Plant. Despite mono, finished team-best ninth (18:50.86) at 4A meet
Bailey Sullivan, Jr., Plant. Third at regionals, top-25 finish at 4A state meet (19:35.19)
Stephanie Cajas, Sr., Newsome
Caroline Gibson, Sr., Plant
Abby Grant, So., Sickles
Emory Pitisci, Sr., Plant
Emily Zwijacz, So., Newsome
Academy of the Holy Names: Colleen Doherty, Natalie Hahn; Berkeley Prep: Gillian Cline, Hilleary Gramling, Georgette Price; Brandon: Eliana Ochoa; Carrollwood Day: Lauren Meaney; Chamberlain: Maggie Parrish; Freedom: Lauren Arfaras, Annie Tedesco; King: Sneha Sathish; Riverview: Brianna Simoni; Robinson: Julia DeYoung, Maddy Hull, Madison Scanlan; Seffner Christian: Sabrina Whiting; Sickles: Kristin Glavan, Sarah Hartman; Wharton: Mariah Henderson
Coach of the Year
Roy Harrison, Plant. Even with his top runner (Rodriguez) battling mononucleosis, Harrison still forged enough depth to lead the Panthers to county, district and region titles, and a runnerup finish at the Class 4A state meet.