BRANDON — Two phenomena — one meteorological, one metaphorical — occurred early Tuesday evening in east Hillsborough. First, the skies burst with precipitation for a half hour or so. Then the planets aligned for Steinbrenner senior Alex Newby.
Did they ever. With no lightning in sight, the Seffner Christian Cross Country Classic — a race Newby had been waiting all day to run — went on as planned. Additionally, temperatures fell with the rain, making conditions far more bearable on the grassy Sydney Dover Trails.
Then, Robinson senior Michael Shuey, leading by roughly eight seconds, faltered and fell on the final stretch, allowing Newby to overtake him to win the boys race in a personal-best time (17:11.42).
All on Newby’s 18th birthday.
“I was just hoping it wouldn’t get canceled,” said Newby, holding a rainbow-colored helium balloon given to him by his mom, Eeva. “When I saw this meet date on my birthday I was happy.”
Newby’s performance paced Steinbrenner’s second eye-opening effort in a week. The Warriors, second in the West Hillsborough Invitational seven days before, put six runners in the top 13 to win Tuesday’s race with 32 points.
Admiral Farragut’s fifth-place showing was the best of the handful of Pinellas County entrants. Blue Jackets junior Blake Arnold placed second overall with a season-best 17:20.38.
“I just felt great, I loved it,” Arnold said. “(The preceding shower) kept me cool. It’s always fun to run in the rain.”
Robinson (50) was second. After collapsing, a barefoot Shuey picked himself up and ran the final stretch , crossing the finish line in 37:35.
“That’s what we coach them to do,” Knights coach Mark Altimari said.
On the girls side, Academy of the Holy Names, observing a moderate predetermined pace, ran in a pack much of the race and coasted to the team title (37 points). The Jaguars, who will compete in Friday’s flrunners.com Invitational in Titusville, had five runners in the top 10.
Indian Rocks Christian, led by junior Lori Trador (12th place) and eighth-grader Bobbi LaBrant (13th), finished second (99 points).
Mount Dora Bible freshman Christina McKinney coasted to the individual title (19:59.20), nearly a minute ahead of runnerup Lauren Garris of Steinbrenner (20:58.98).