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4A-4 cross country: Sickles senior rallies for boys title; Mitchell sophomore surprises girls field

BOYS

Team scores: Sarasota 45, Countryside 69, Sickles 76, Largo 95, Mitchell 167, Sarasota Riverview 176, St. Petersburg 186, Durant 200, East Bay 231, North Port 245, Alonso 277, Bloomingdale 354, East Lake 372, Palm Harbor U. 418, Riverview 433, Gaither 456, Pinellas Park 520

Individuals: 1. Wehunt (Sic) 16:08.56, 2. Lanning (Sar) 16:17.82, 3. Reynolds (SP) 16:32.17, 4. Mitchell (Dur) 16:57.93, 5. Ramos (Lar) 17:02.78, 6. Christenson (Cs) 17:08.32, 7. Mendoza (Sar) 17:11.45, 8. Mason (Sar) 17:15.55, 9. Ribble (Cs) 17:29.60, 10. McGrath (Lar) 17:31.79, 11. Fotopoulos (Cs) 17:33.90, 12. Davis (Sar) 17:35.97, 13. Gines (Sic) 17:37.10, 14. Dejute (Sic) 17:38.75, 15. Ruiz (Mit) 17:41.11

GIRLS

Team scores: Sarasota Riverview 73, Palm Harbor U. 109, Sickles 131, Gaither 139, North Port 139, Mitchell 164, St. Petersburg 167, East Bay 192, Sarasota 232, Alonso 235, East Lake 253, Bloomingdale 277, Countryside 297, Durant 311, Pinellas Park 480

Individuals: 1. Williams (Mit) 20:34.28, 2. McMeekin (EL) 20:38.26, 3. VanDeGrift (Dur) 20:49.59, 4. Scaffidi (NP) 20:58.41, 5. Lisman (PHU) 20:58.69, 6. Lopez (Gai) 21:01.65, 7. Pratt (Gai) 21:04.44, 8. Stein (Sar) 21:05.28, 9. Mahoney (SR) 21:15.55, 10. Markuske (SP) 21:17.35, 11. Verbosky (EB) 21:18.70, 12. Williams (EB) 21:21.79, 13. Wehunt (Sic) 21:21.79, 14. Chase (SR) 21:30.32, 15. McGinn (SR) 21:40.63

NEW PORT RICHEY — A football field separated Sickles senior Derek Wehunt from the race leader with less than a mile to go.

The Gryphons star cross country runner was fighting a lingering cold, then he got a boost when he noticed Sarasota senior Jonathan Lanning turning his head to size up his lead.

"That kind of fired me up," Wehunt said. "I just started sprinting from there."

Wehunt caught Lanning roughly 100 yards from the finish on the final stretch of grass Saturday and passed him to win his third boys Class 4A, District 4 title at Starkey Wilderness Park with a time of 16 minutes, 8 seconds.

Wehunt helped Sickles to a third-place team finish with Julian Gines (17:37), Marc Dejute (17:38) and Daniel Wehunt (17:49) all finishing in the top 20.

Host Mitchell finished fifth with top runner Sebastian Ruiz coming in 15th (17:41). And Durant was eighth thanks in large part to John Mitchell, who finished fourth (16:57).

In girls competition, Mitchell sophomore Kelli Williams surprised the field in her first season of cross country, winning on her home course in 20:34.

East Lake's Katherine McMeekin and Durant sophomore Grace VanDeGrift were favorites entering the race. Their strategy quickly developed as they followed Williams through the shifting sugar sand.

Mustangs coach Jeff Leavey jumped up and down in excitement along the finish as his prized sophomore helped lift Mitchell to a sixth-place finish.

VanDeGrift finished third (20:49) behind McMeekin (20:38) and will advance to next week's region meet as an individual.

Gaither senior Julissa Lopez (21:01) and junior Sandra Pratt (21:04) helped their team to a fourth-place finish. Sickles finished third thanks in part to Emily Wehunt, who finished 13th (21:30).

East Bay finished eighth thanks to Lauren Verbosky (21:18) and Morgan Williams (21:21), who finished 11th and 12th respectively.

"I just found it in me," Kelli Williams said. "I didn't expect it."

Izzy Gould can be reached at izzygould@me.com or (727) 580-5315.

4A-4 cross country: Sickles senior rallies for boys title; Mitchell sophomore surprises girls field 11/08/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 10, 2008 4:19pm]
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