DADE CITY — Sarah Hartman rushed through the turns of Withlacoochee River Park desperately trying to catch a glimpse of one girl.
Belleview sophomore Anne-Marie Blaney was all that stood between the Sickles freshman and a region title. Though Blaney won in 19 minutes, 5.73 seconds, Hartman's second-place finish (19:28.19) in Saturday's Class 3A, Region 2 meet was remarkable because she was recovering from swine flu.
Hartman was sick last month and missed more than a week of training. Saturday, she said she was in the best physical shape of her life. Hartman has raced since the fourth grade, but these high school races have been the longest of her career, forcing her to use more energy.
"I felt great," Hartman said. "I think I have my stride back. I'm a lot better now."
Hartman was one of several Hillsborough runners to advance to state. Armwood senior Danielle Newsome finished 10th (20:23.35) and Hillsborough senior Morgan Parker 13th (20:33.56).
King's girls team was among the six schools to advance with a fourth-place finish. The Lions were led by juniors Dayna Cline (19:57.96) and Hilary White (20:18.92), who finished sixth and ninth, respectively. King sophomore Emily Kolilas was 24th (21:23.40), freshman Calyx Schenecker 49th (22:35.32) and sophomore Maria Van Olphen 70th (23:26.21).
For the boys, Armwood senior Ben Hilton declared at the finish line, "Fifth!" — a personal achievement that left him smiling most of the morning. His finish (16:53.98) was tops among county boys.
"I am so happy," Hilton said. "My strategy was to stop at the top 15 and move up. The first mile I was leading out. I wanted them to follow me."
Armwood finished seventh, missing state qualifying by 15 points. No Hillsborough boys teams or other individuals advanced to state.
Overall, Wiregrass Ranch's boys and girls teams swept the meet, winning the program's first region trophies. The boys individual winner was Land O'Lakes senior Matt Schwartz (16:28.57).