MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
Girls runner of the year: Claire Snyder, So., Tampa Prep
Why we picked her: Few breakthrough seasons have been this stunning. Snyder, who essentially didn’t train over the summer, won her first meet of the year — the Seffner Christian Invitational — in late September, then really took off. With each ensuing race, she whittled a few more seconds off her time, evolving into a sub-19-minute competitor. Her coronation as an elite area runner occurred in late October at Lutz’s Lake Park, where she conquered a seasoned field to win the Hillsborough County championship on a 3-mile course. Ten days later, she won the Class A, District 8 title. A region runnerup finish followed before Snyder capped her season by placing eighth at the Class A state meet in Dade City.
Proudest accomplishment: Winning the county meet, a victory that seems more astounding considering Snyder didn’t know she’d be competing in it until days before the race. Terrapins coach Joe Ranalli said he initially planned to bypass the meet, geared more toward the county’s public schools, but opted to enter Snyder to expose her to better competition. Snyder said the nerves she felt propelled her. “I started out really strong and fast and just took it the whole way,” she said.
Future plans: For now, Terrapins girls hoops. Down the road, who can say? Snyder turned only 15 in June.
Did you know? Though a member of Tampa Prep’s cross country team since seventh grade, Snyder literally ran about 25 miles all summer, and that was in late May/early June. “I just wanted to enjoy my summer and be a kid,” she said. … The daughter of a retired Air Force brigadier general, Snyder was born in Alabama and also has lived in Mississippi, Colorado, Illinois and Hawaii. … To this day, Snyder races in one black sock in memory of former Terrapins track assistant Ryan McCall, a University of Tampa student shot to death near campus three summers ago.
Colleen Doherty, Fr., Holy Names. District champ, region runnerup placed fifth at 2A meet
Scarlett Fox, Fr., Plant. Capped stunning inaugural season with sixth-place finish at 4A meet
Kara Halfaker, Sr., Plant. Top-five district, region placer; top-25 state placer
Danielle Kissel, Sr., Plant. Had county’s best time at state (18:41.66) with third-place finish in 4A
Julia Rodriguez, Jr., Plant. Rebounded from sluggish district effort to win 4A, Region 2 crown
Julia Deyoung, So., Robinson
Caroline Gibson, Jr., Plant
Sarah Hartman, Jr., Sickles
Erica Oosterhout, Fr., Plant
Sabrina Whiting, So., Seffner Christian
Academy of the Holy Names: Natalie Hahn; Armwood: Amber Duncan; Bloomingdale: Julie Roggeman; Carrollwood Day: Lauren Meaney; Chamberlain: Emily Schonder; Freedom: Lauren Arfaras, Ashley Smith, Annie Tedesco; Gaither: Rachel Cazares; Hillsborough: Katherine Lutton; Plant: Anna Montgomery; Robinson: Madison Hull; Steinbrenner: Lauren Garris; Strawberry Crest: Trixi Menge; Tampa Prep: Caroline Williams; Wharton: Taylor Griffith, Mariah Henderson
Coach of the year
Roy Harrison, Plant. Harrison, who likely will retire this award before he’s finished, led the Panthers to their 10th team title (a state record) at the Class 4A meet. Leading the way were two Panthers — senior Danielle Kissel and freshman Scarlett Fox — who weren’t among the team’s top runners at the season’s outset. Someone had to coach ’em up.
Boys runner of the year: Max del Monte, Sr., Chamberlain
Why we picked him: The Chiefs’ homeschooled senior essentially sacrificed the season’s earlier meets, where his times were modest, so he’d be in optimal condition when it counted. The calculated gamble worked; del Monte won county and district titles, then placed second at the Class 3A state meet (15:28.38) on a warm morning in Dade City.
Proudest accomplishment: Del Monte points to his runnerup performance at state, where he ran arguably his best race of the year but couldn’t overcome the blistering pace set by eventual winner Elliot Clemente of Miami Belen Jesuit. Clemente’s time (15:05.99) was the best of the day, which featured four boys races.
Future plans: Del Monte has narrowed his college choice to two schools he declines to name at this point. “I’m trying to let the holiday rush get out of the way first and then try to make (the decision) with a clear mind,” he said Thursday. “I’m ready to get it sorted out.”
Did you know? A week after the state meet, del Monte traveled to Charlotte, N.C., for the Foot Locker South Regionals, where he placed 19th (15:22) in the Boys Seeded race. The top two moved on to the Foot Locker Nationals. … The son of an architect, del Monte ends his prep cross country career with two top-five and three top-20 state finishes.
Michael Babinec, Sr., Riverview. Region runnerup was eighth at 4A state meet
Lars Benner, Jr., Newsome. Top-five region placer, 13th at 4A state meet
Travis Christenberry, Sr., Plant. Third at 4A state meet with surge on final stretch
Alex Main, Sr., Berkeley Prep. 2A state runnerup won district, region titles
Brian Sharp, Sr., Robinson. A 2A district and region champ if Alex Main didn’t exist
Tyler Bess-Lima, Jr., Steinbrenner
Curtis Foulsham, Sr., Plant
Matt Magee, Jr., Steinbrenner
Shaun Majumdar, Sr., Berkeley Prep
Tim O’Loughlin, So., Jesuit
Armwood: Brandon Duncan; Berkeley Prep: Max Borland, James Dowdle; Chamberlain: Sabastian Montoya; Sean Russo; Freedom: Adam Urbaniak; Jesuit: Hunter Revord; Newsome: Curtis Engel, Justin Martinez; Plant: John Drawdy, Sam Powers; Seffner Christian: Josh Keenan, Noah Lambert; Sickles: David Piatt; Steinbrenner: Zach Bess-Lima, Tanner Biles, Blake West; Tampa Prep: Yuri Costa, Miller Judge
Coach of the year
Mike Boza, Plant. In five seasons, Boza — who created a distance running dynasty at Jesuit — has transformed the Panthers into annual bona fide state title contenders. This past season’s team won county, district and region titles, and placed third at the Class 4A state meet.