DADE CITY — Mark Parrish gained strength with the finish in sight.
These were the final strides of the Chamberlain senior's high school cross country career.
What a way to end it: a well-manicured swath of grass before him, cameras snapping, fans feeding him with each yell, each clap.
Second place never felt so good.
Parrish had the top finish among bay area individuals Saturday at the boys Class 4A state meet, finishing in 15 minutes, 30 seconds — 10 seconds behind Melbourne's Brian Atkinson.
"I was really pleased with that," Parrish said. "I put in a hard finish. All you can ask for is your best. You will never turn down second place at state."
Individuals seemed to have the best success at Little Everglades Ranch.
Parrish guided the Chamberlain boys to a ninth-place finish in 4A, with teammates Max Del Monte and Jacob Covington finishing 17th (16:13) and 23rd (16:21), respectively. Plant was 11th, led by junior Bo Nalsen in 28th (16:27).
In the 4A girls race, Plant finished fifth, paced by freshman Julia Rodriguez in 23rd (19:33). Wharton junior Abigail Ritter was 12th (19:07), helping the Wildcats to a 10th-place finish.
In 2A boys, Berkeley Prep's Tyler Greathouse finished his sixth competition at state in seventh place (15:53), leading the Buccaneers to sixth. Teammate Michael Rosenbach was 19th (16:26). Robinson senior Bryan Garcia finished eighth (15:58) and Jesuit junior Blake Lopez was 18th (16:25). Robinson finished ninth, Jesuit 10th.
In 2A girls, Steinbrenner freshman Lauren Garris, the program's first state qualifier, finished 31st (19:47). She high-fived Middleton junior Amber Brooks, who was 40th (20:03). Holy Names was 19th and Berkeley Prep finished 22nd.
Among 3A girls, Sickles freshman Sarah Hartman finished 11th (19:07), and junior Dayna Cline's 29th-place finish (19:57) led King to 15th. In 3A boys, Armwood senior Benjamin Hilton led the pack, as he did at the region meet, before finishing 20th (16:27).
In Class A boys, Seffner Christian made its first trip to state, finishing 15th as senior Michael Oquendo (17:55) was 57th.