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Pinellas state cross country preview

Northside Christian sophomore Katelyn Greenleaf will help the Mustangs continue the battle with rival Keswick Christian in the Class A competition.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Northside Christian sophomore Katelyn Greenleaf will help the Mustangs continue the battle with rival Keswick Christian in the Class A competition.

Five intriguing story lines

1. The great Chase: Seminole junior Chase Sutton (15:56) finished second to Chamberlain star Mark Parrish (15:52) at regionals, and that bodes well for Sutton. A year ago, Parrish placed third at state. Sutton appears to be peaking at just the right time. Before regionals, he was third at districts with a personal record (15:39) and first at the Little Everglades Pre-State Invitational. Sutton was 51st at state in 2008. This week, a top-10 showing is possible. Another PR could get him into the top five.

2. Pluta's plight: Largo senior Rick Pluta reached state after placing sixth in 16:46 at regionals. At state, he's hoping for a top-20 showing, which wouldn't be bad, especially considering this is only his second year on the team.

3. Alexis' A-game: Osceola sophomore Alexis Irwin is looking for another clutch performance after a terrific effort at regionals, where she finished in 19 minutes, 20 seconds to cut 15 seconds off her previous PR and place fourth. Irwin took 32nd at state last season (19:43), but the way she's running right now it wouldn't be a shock to see her make the top 15.

4. Northside vs. Keswick: Neither Northside Christian nor Keswick Christian is likely to win the Class A girls title (Naples Community should, um, run away with it), but it will be interesting to see which of the fierce rivals finishes higher. Northside, led by sophomores Katelyn Greenleaf and Victoria Goodwin, edged Keswick at regionals. At districts, Keswick and freshman sensation Hannah Palm got the better of Northside. Both teams have excellent squads, so expect another close battle.

5. Don't forget us: Keep an eye on the Shorecrest Prep boys, who have quietly put together a pretty nice season. The team was third at regionals and is primed for another good showing at state, especially if Rheese Wiltshire (seventh at regionals) and Caelum Schandle (10th) continue to shine.

When/where: Saturday. Little Everglades Ranch, Dade City

Directions: From I-75, exit at Highway 52 and go east for 8 miles; turn right on Meridian Street and follow until you reach U.S. 301; go north on 301 for 6 miles and look for signs for the entrance (on your right), just past the drive-in theater.

Admission: $8; children 6 and younger are free

Parking: $7 per vehicle

Schedule: Class A girls, 7:30; Class 2A girls, 7:55; Class A boys, 8:20; Class 2A boys, 8:45; Class 3A girls, 9:05; Class 4A girls, 9:30; Class 3A boys, 9:55; Class 4A boys, 10:20; awards ceremony (all classes), 10:45

Who's going

Class 4A: No teams; Alicia Aldridge (East Lake); Katie Homme (Seminole); Chase Sutton (Seminole)

Class 3A: No teams; Alexis Irwin (Osceola), Rick Pluta (Largo)

Class 2A: No teams or individuals

Class A: Girls teams: Northside Christian, Keswick Christian, Shorecrest Prep. Boys teams: Shorecrest Prep, Admiral Farragut. Individuals: Alexandra Eaton (Canterbury); Josh Johnson (Indian Rocks Christian), Grant Shelton (Canterbury)

Keith Niebuhr, Times staff writer

Pinellas state cross country preview 11/18/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 18, 2009 10:37pm]
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