BROOKSVILLE — Anthony Plourde knew the win would have been that much sweeter if Ryan Pulsifer and the rest of the dominant Wiregrass Ranch crew were in the Zak Lucas Invitational cross country race Saturday morning at McKethan Lake Park, but he will certainly still take the victory.
The Pasco senior won the 34th annual invitational in 16 minutes, 24 seconds over what seemed like a diminished field after a majority of the Bulls were in Key West for a meet and Steinbrenner pulled out of the field after competing Tuesday. Plourde finished third in this race last year, one spot behind Pulsifer.
"I wish Wiregrass was here," said Plourde, who finished 20 seconds ahead of Ridgewood's Kolby Watson. "I like it when Pulsifer and those guys are in the race. They push me harder."
Land O'Lakes (39 points) grabbed the boys' team title over Nature Coast (75) thanks to three runners finishing in the top 10.
Mitchell's Kelli Williams (19:15) sprinted to a near-photo finish for the girls' individual crown over Lecanto's Chloe Benoist (19:16). The win was a big confidence boost for Williams, who was coming off a second-place finish in the Mitchell Invitational a week ago.
"I was really happy with the course. I've never ran here before," Williams said. "I was able to sit back on the leader and make my move when I needed to."
Ocala Vanguard (93 points) took the first in the girls' team standings over Crystal River (101) and Ridgewood (108).