Why we picked her: Because she was the county's top female runner by a 10K. After spending the previous winter nursing a stress fracture in her hip, VanDeGrift spent the fall tending to other significant breaks — of her personal bests. A county, district and region champion, she ran a personal best 18:05.58 at the Class 3A, Region 2 meet. Two weeks before, she won the county meet in suffocating humidity by 37 seconds with the race's only sub-19-minute time (18:58.37). Her season culminated with a seventh-place effort (18:33.49) at the Class 3A state meet.
Proudest accomplishment: Consistency. VanDeGrift, who ran at Lebanon (Ohio) High and qualified for state as a junior before moving back to Durant, eclipsed 19 minutes in every major race. "I've always had a bad race (in past years)," she said. "My times were pretty consistent this season."
Future plans: VanDeGrift has committed to Florida, where she'll compete in both cross country and track.
Did you know: VanDeGrift's paternal grandfather, James VanDeGrift, was such a successful track and football coach at Lebanon High, the school's football stadium is named after him. Her dad, Ty, won nine varsity letters at Lebanon, and her younger brother, Trey, is the starting quarterback at Strawberry Crest. … In a whirlwind 12-hour span in mid October, VanDeGrift participated in Durant's homecoming festivities as a member of the court, logged roughly six hours of sleep and traveled to northern Dade City for the Pre-State Invitational. She finished 14th in the Elite Girls race (18:34.55), which began at 7:30 a.m., to lead all county runners.
Colleen Doherty, 8th, Academy of the Holy Names: Fledgling superstar was ninth at 2A state meet.
Julia Rodriguez, So., Plant: State champs' top runner at region (third) and state (fourth).
Caroline Gibson, So., Plant: Recovered from bad region race to place ninth at 4A state meet.
Danielle Kissell, Jr., Plant: Panthers veteran was fourth at region, 12th at state.
Sabrina Whiting, Fr., Seffner Chr.: 1A standout was top-five at county, districts and region.
• Dayna Cline, Sr., King
• Lauren Garris, So., Steinbrenner
• Katherine Ralston, So., Plant
• Abby Ritter, Sr., Wharton
• Claire Snyder, Fr., Tampa Prep
Academy of the Holy Names — Natalie Hahn, Marisa Petrick, Alex Reichert; Armwood — Amber Duncan; Freedom — Emma Hawley; Hillsborough — Katherine Lutton; Middleton — Amber Brooks; Newsome — Brianna Jackson; Plant — Kara Halfaker; Robinson — Julia DeYoung; Sickles — Sarah Hartman; Steinbrenner — Evyn Moon; Strawberry Crest — Trixi Menge; Tampa Prep — Lauren Knoke.
Coach of the Year:
Roy Harrison, Plant: The veteran coach led one of his youngest teams, which featured no seniors among its top five, to a state-record ninth state title.