ST. PETERSBURG — After having what he called a "terrible" junior season, Northeast's Josh Phillippi was determined to finish his high school career in style.
To achieve this, he went all out during the summer.
"I ran 750 miles," Phillippi said.
That's about 500 more than he had run previous summers.
"It was my senior year," he said. "It was my last chance."
The extra work has paid off big time.
During Wednesday's Rebel Invitational at Walter Fuller Park, Phillippi completed the course in 17 minutes, 3 seconds to finish first, 35 seconds ahead of Boca Ciega's Bryan Leshore. It was Phillippi's second win in four races this fall; in the other two he took fourth and sixth.
"I figured this is what would happen if I worked," Phillippi said. "I was lazy in the past."
Behind Phillippi, Northeast won the boys team title with 59 points. Osceola (64) was second and St. Petersburg (76) third.
On the girls side, Northside Christian standout Katelyn Greenleaf (19:57) took first by three seconds over Osceola's Alexis Irwin. Northside Christian was the girls champion with 56 points, one better than St. Petersburg.
Phillippi was part of a small pack for about a mile, then took command. By the 2-mile mark, he already held a sizeable lead.
"I was trying to catch him," Leshore said. "But he was fast."
Greenleaf's victory came just five days after the talented sophomore came down with a fever that forced her to miss Saturday's prestigious flrunners.com Race of Champions in Titusville. While that event was going on, she sat at home upset.
"I wasn't happy," Greenleaf said. "I was on the couch watching movies."
Greenleaf missed school Monday but returned Tuesday. By Wednesday, she was back to her old self.
During the race, she took the lead after the first mile and down the stretch held off Irwin, who already has five top-two finishes this season.
"I'm happy with my performance," Greenleaf said.