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3A-2 cross country: Wiregrass Ranch sweeps team titles

DADE CITY — Don Howard raised the microphone leashed to a bullhorn and his voice rose above Withlacoochee River Park.

The Wiregrass Ranch coach said it once for his girls and once for Chris Loth's boys — the host Bulls were the Class 3A, Region 2 champions.

The clean sweep Saturday morning marked the program's first region titles to go along with conference and district team titles this season.

"We came out here to win the championship," Howard said. "It's the first in school history."

The girls won by 40 points and were led by freshman Nikita Shah (19:55.48) and junior Ariel Grey (20:17.42), who finished fifth and eighth, respectively. Others scoring for the Bulls were junior Taylor Hixson (22nd, 21:21.84), freshman Alexandra Diepholz (27th, 21:27.69) and Kesley Sturman (31st, 21:43.15).

The boys won by 10 points and were led by junior Ryan Pulsifer (16:40.20) and senior Delonzo Sharp (16:42.98), who finished third and fourth, respectively. Others scoring for the Bulls were juniors Joshua Reilly (18th, 17:27.75) and Logan Selzer (21st, 17:29.02), and sophomore Tyler Mattera (27th, 17:37.47).

"We're on a really good run," Loth said. "To win conference district and region going into the week before state, we should be really confident. Every runner is contributing. The sky is the limit if they keep on working."

Individually, Land O'Lakes senior Matt Schwartz won the boys race in 16:28.57. Schwartz said he was exhausted in the final mile and the race hurt more than he thought it would. After trailing for two-thirds of the race, he seized the lead.

"My abs and my legs were just telling me to give up," Schwartz said. "My mind kept me going. That's my strength."

Mitchell junior Kelli Williams finished fourth (19:48.95) for the top North Suncoast finish among the girls. She credited her coach, Jeff Leavey, with yelling the right things at the right times to help her stay strong.

"I couldn't ask for a better coach," Williams said. "I love my coach. He knows exactly what to do. He's done it before. I believe in him and I'll do what he tells me to do."

Schwartz and Williams helped their teams earn state berths, which were claimed by the top six teams.

North Suncoast girls teams to qualify for state were Land O'Lakes (third) and Mitchell (sixth). Individually, Land O'Lakes senior Renea Porsch finished 11th (20:26.54) and Springstead senior Jacklyn White was 14th (20:34.79).

North Suncoast boys teams to qualify for state were Land O'Lakes (third), Ridgewood (fourth) and Sunlake (fifth).

Individually, Land O'Lakes junior Hendrix Lafontant was 10th (17:12.01) and teammate Joseph Lonsway 13th (17:13.97). Mitchell senior Taylor Hawks was 12th (17:13.15), and Ridgewood seniors Tyler Camacho and Mason Chilmonczyk finished 14th (17:15.05) and 15th (17:15.30), respectively.

Izzy Gould can be reached at or (813) 421-3886.

3A-2 cross country: Wiregrass Ranch sweeps team titles 11/14/09 [Last modified: Saturday, November 14, 2009 10:22pm]
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