LARGO — Chase Sutton's strategy during Thursday's Pinellas County Athletic Conference meet at John Taylor Park was simple and effective.
Just after the halfway point, he began drafting behind the leader, Largo's Rick Pluta. A short while later, Sutton sprinted past him.
"I ran the race how I run," Sutton said.
The plan worked.
The Seminole junior finished in 16 minutes, 19 seconds to claim his fourth individual title this season. Sutton's teammate, Jacob Hudak, was second in 16:43
"I was just sitting on (Pluta)," Sutton said. "Then I was like, 'I'm full of energy,' so I took off."
Countryside, with 39 points, easily won the boys division. Seminole (76) was second, followed by Northeast (129). Countryside had four runners finish in the top 10, led by Jake Herrmann (16:49, third) and Nick Finneo (17:07, fourth).
In the girls race, Osceola's Alexis Irwin was the only competitor to break the 20-minute mark, finishing in 19:57. Alicia Aldridge (20:15) of East Lake was second.
Seminole, led by the third-place effort of Danielle Frain (20:53), was the girls champion with 65 points. St. Petersburg (75) was second and Palm Harbor University (116) third. St. Petersburg's Savannah Dearden (20:57) took fourth.
Like Sutton, Irwin also recorded win No. 4 this season.
At the 2-mile mark, she was in a pack with three others, but Irwin eventually pulled away, partly because she picked up her pace and partly because her competitors simply slowed a bit.
"I just had to tell myself I had more than them," Irwin said.
At John Taylor Park, the Keswick Christian girls and Shorecrest Prep boys won team championships in impression fashion.
Keswick, with 29 points, was 12 ahead of runnerup Northside Christian.
Keswick was led by the second-place showing of Hannah Palm (20:37). Northside's Katelyn Greenleaf was the individual winner, finishing in 19:38.
Caelum Schandle (18:05), the boys runnerup, paced Shorecrest.
Joshua Johnson of Indian Rocks Christian won in 17:25.