TAMPA — When significant races are approaching, Jesuit cross country standout Connor Revord prepares as much with his mind as he does with his legs.
"I do a lot of visualizing of the race," he said. "I could be doing anything and it pops into my head."
Revord's brain is working overtime this week.
Saturday morning in Dade City, the heralded senior will take part in the state's Class 2A final and is considered one of the runners to beat. In a stellar prep career, Revord has two top-10 finishes at state and an 11th-place showing.
A year ago he was fifth. Now, he wants gold "pretty bad."
"I've been training awhile for this," Revord said.
Revord, also a track star, began running when he was 8. By the time he was 14, he had set three junior Olympic records, his last in the 14-year-old age group for the 3,000 meters (9 minutes, 14 seconds).
That early success followed him to high school. At the 2A state track and field meet this spring, Revord was second in the 800 (1:55.88) and 1,600 (4:18.86), and anchored the 4x800 relay squad that won gold. In the process, he helped accumulate 26 of Jesuit's 29 points.
In the coming months, Revord will choose from four finalists: Georgetown, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Penn State. For now, though, he's focused only on one thing and that's Saturday's race. Not only is Revord trying to win the individual title, he's hoping to lead the Tigers, who were dominant at districts and regionals, to the team championship.
"I think we're going to see something from him we haven't seen before," Jesuit coach Greg Maurin.
Lingering stomach issues plagued Revord at the county and district events, but he responded with one of his best efforts at the Region 3 meet last week in Estero. His time of 16:26 on a "slow course" was good for first by 10 seconds over teammate Jordan Schilit and gave Revord the boost he needed heading into his cross country finale in high school.
State is held at Little Everglades Ranch, a course Revord knows rather well, which should aid with his visualization.
"I've got it down," Revord said. "Now it's just a matter of executing."