NEW PORT RICHEY — Wiregrass Ranch cross country coaches Chris Loth and Don Howard have seen the level of effort from their boys and girls squads continue to rise as district and region meets get closer.
So not much needed to be said by either coach Saturday morning before the Sunshine Athletic Conference meet at Starkey Park. After sweeping the boys and girls titles, the Bulls know there may be bigger things to come.
"I don't think there is a team more confident than we are right now," said Loth, the boys coach.
"The team chemistry and the way these guys have jelled the past eight weeks is amazing. I show up and tell them what to do and they do it. They're taking the team and running with it, literally."
The Wiregrass Ranch boys (22 points) placed six runners in the top 10 on Saturday, including seniors Josh Reilly, who continued his stellar season by conquering the 3.1-mile race in 16 minutes, 6 seconds, and Ryan Pulsifer (16:13) in second. Other top-10 Bulls placers were Sam Hippely (fifth), Ermias Bireda (sixth), Logan Selzer (eighth) and Tyler Mattera (10th).
Mitchell (103) was second in the boys team standings, while Sunlake and Land O'Lakes tied for third (119).
Pasco's Anthony Plourde continued his solid season, taking third individually (16:18).
The Wiregrass girls (23 points) topped Gulf (76) for the team title. Bulls had seven runners in the top 10, all finishing in less than 21 minutes. Sophomore Nikita Shah (19:28) was second to lead the Bulls finishers.
But individually the race belonged to Mitchell's Kelli Williams, who set a course record of 18:52, beating the mark of Northside Christian's Katelyn Greenleaf (19:14).
"I was planning on breaking 19 today," Williams said. "It's my senior year, and I had to step up today. I felt really good and really strong."