BROOKSVILLE — Lake Highland Prep and Winter Park Trinity Prep dominated the boys and girls standings at Saturday's Class 2A, Region 2 cross country meet hosted by Nature Coast, but with an individual victory and four teams advancing to state, the North Suncoast had a fine showing.
Gulf senior Kari Grippo is peaking at the perfect time. After back-to-back runnerup finishes in this same race as a sophomore and junior, Grippo broke through for her first region title, dominating the field in 18 minutes, 59 seconds.
Grippo and Eliza Gazda (21:07), who placed 15th, pushed Gulf to a fifth-place finish overall, good enough to advance the Bucs (105 points) to next weekend's state meet in Tallahassee. The top six teams and top 15 individuals advance.
Nature Coast (114) was the final girls team to make the cut as Alyssa DeLigio (20:27) finished seventh and broke the school record set by Crystal Burchhardt (20:28) last season. Alexa Lacy (21:32) was the next Shark to finish, in 21st.
Lake Highland Prep (41) won the girls team title over Trinity Prep (71).
However, Trinity Prep (20 points) dominated the boys meet with the top three runners, led by winner Scott Millson in 16:18. Lake Highland Prep (85) was runnerup. Scott Millson narrowly beating his brother Jesse Millson (16:20) for the title. The duo will join their sister Rose Millson (20:53), who qualified on the girls' side for state as well.
One week after being edged for the district title, Nature Coast's James Harkless (16:41) finished seventh to lead the Sharks (136) to third place as a team. Teammate Austin Mulyck (16:51) also placed in the top 10.
Gulf (140) qualified for state in fifth, led by James Raymond's 14th-place finish (16:57).
2A-3: Holy Names girls dash through
At Anclote, the Academy of the Holy Names girls and the Jesuit boys led bay-area efforts.
Led by Colleen Doherty (third, 20:55) and Claire Snyder (fifth, 21:07), the AHN girls tied Lemon Bay with 46 points, but they were awarded the team title based on the sixth runner's points. AHN senior Virginia Barreda was 25th and easily ahead of Lemon Bay's runner as the field endured a morning storm.
"I think mentally, I feel better (when it's rainy)," Snyder said.
Berkeley Prep's girls qualified for the state meet with a fifth-place finish, led by seventh-graders Catelin Lipham (ninth, 22:10) and Emma Righter (11th, 22:18). Host Anclote grabbed the sixth and last qualifying spot, led by freshman Perla Saucedo (21st, 22:43).
The Jesuit boys improved on their third-place finish a year ago by taking second with 65 points, just seven behind winner Lakeland McKeel. Tigers senior Tim O'Loughlin grabbed third in 17:03, and freshman teammate Charlie Gonzmart was eighth in 17:25.26.
Berkeley Prep took the sixth qualifying spot with 171 points as junior Vasilis Vasiloudes (11th, 17:33.60) and freshman Leonel Ochoa (19th, 17:49.90) led the way.
3A-2: Land O'Lakes boys edge Sebring
At Lake Nona, the Land O'Lakes boys nabbed the team title with 66 points, 68 better than runnerup Sebring.
The Gators also swept the top two spots, with Travis Nichols winning in 16:05.10, just ahead of fellow senior Tyler Stahl (16:05.30). Senior Jake Poore came in fourth (16:20).
In the girls race, Springstead sophomore Amber Philpott took top honors, winning in 18:53, four seconds ahead of runnerup Kianna Bonnet of Seabreeze.
Mitchell placed third, 72 points behind champion Ocala Vanguard. The Mustangs' Emily Kerns had the North Suncoast's only other top-15 finish, placing third in 19:19.
4A-2: Plant girls roll
Plant's girls continued their strong season by claiming the region team title and the Panthers' Bailey Sullivan won the individual crown in 18 minutes, 52 seconds.
Teammate Anna Montgomery was 24 seconds behind to take fourth. Abigail Crowder's 10th-place showing helped the Panthers finish eight points ahead of host North Port for the title.
Palm Harbor University placed fourth as a team and will also advance to state. Senior Sarah Raymond led the Hurricanes by finishing third (19:16).
Another notable finisher was Wiregrass Ranch's Elise Cedre (15th) and the Bulls were ninth.
In the boys race, Sickles junior James Zentmeyer cruised to the region title in 15:59 — 26 seconds ahead of Countryside senior Andrew Llewellyn. Newsome was the team runnerup, 57 points behind Sarasota Riverview. The Wolves placed four runners in the top 30 overall, led by Andrew Flynn (22nd). Sickles also had a seventh-place finish by sophomore Paris Williams to take third as a team.
Junior Jack Guyton finished third for Plant, which placed fourth as a team. Steinbrenner and St. Petersburg finished fifth and sixth to punch their tickets to state.
Staff writer Matt Baker, and correspondent Andy Warrener contributed to this report.