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State cross country: Shorecrest's Alex Eaton saves best race for last

Shorecrest’s Alex Eaton, the Class A runnerup, congratulates Calvary Christian’s Hannah Brookover, left, on her eighth place.

COLIN HACKLEY | Special to the Times

Shorecrest’s Alex Eaton, the Class A runnerup, congratulates Calvary Christian’s Hannah Brookover, left, on her eighth place.

TALLAHASSEE — Sprinting down the back stretch at Tallahassee's Apalachee Region Park on Saturday, Alex Eaton was behind the leader but far enough ahead of the remaining field to know that second place in the Class A girls state cross country race would belong to her.

The Shorecrest senior, who finished her final high school race in 18 minutes, 22.68 seconds, extended her arms as she crossed the finish and smiled.

It was a moment of unfiltered joy for a top-two finish she finally could embrace. The only runner Eaton could not catch was Melbourne Holy Trinity's Julie Wollrath, who won her third straight title in 18:14.88.

"It wasn't a personal record as far as time, but I'm ecstatic with what I did," said Eaton, who finished third at state a year ago. "This was the race I've always wanted to run."

Eaton had finally figured it out. It was there on her face, the jubilation and relief that came with knowing she had learned how to compete with the best the state cross country meet has to offer.

There were times in her career when it seemed the finish she wanted so badly was locked in a vault and no one would tell her the combination. She had battled through injuries and illness and fatigue from peaking too soon during a season. Last week, she was fourth at region and was not even the top-seeded runner from Pinellas County heading into the state meet, falling behind Calvary Christian's Hannah Brookover.

But Eaton put it all together Saturday by relying on strategy in a duel that resembled a chess match as much as a foot race.

Rather than letting the lead runners break out to a wide lead before reeling them in, Eaton sprinted to the front. She was able to do that because she waited until this week before she started tapering.

"This was my best race because it was a gutsy race," Eaton said. "At the state meet, you have to go out fast or else you'll never be able to catch up. By the end, my body was ahead of my mind. I was like, 'Whoa', and my mind eventually said it was okay."

Eaton was among four Chargers who finished in the top 40. The others were Olivia Rovin (28th), Sophia Vesely (35th) and Savannah Broome (40th). They helped Shorecrest finish fourth overall with 170 points.

Brookover, a sophomore who emerged as a state title contender this season, finished eighth in 18:44.42.

The Chargers boys had the better result as a team, placing third (127 points). Luke Peterson was ninth (16:29.89) and Ross Porter 11th (16:33.11) to lead a strong group of Shorecrest runners near the front.

Indian Rocks Christian's Trevor Quandt placed 18th (16:48.07) and Admiral Farragut's Patrick McNamara was 21st (16:58.63).

In 4A, Palm Harbor University's Sarah Raymond was 19th (19:23.82) and Countryside's Andrew Llewellyn was 23rd (16:23.42).

girls

Team results: Class A 1 Holy Trinity Acad. 48, 4 Shorecrest 170, 17 Calvary Chr. 429

Class 4A 1 Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas 63, 14 Palm Harbor U. 356

Individual results: Class A 1 Wollrath (HlyTri) 18:14.88, 2 Eaton (Shore) 18:22.68, 8 Brookover (CC) 18:44.42, 28 Rovin (Shore) 19:41.43, 35 Vesely (Shore) 19:54.57, 40 Broome (Shore) 20:16.62, 73 Knauf (Shore) 21:07.07, 83 Curran (CC) 21:16.85, 91 Greenlees (Shore) 21:30.17

Class 4A 1 Cruz (StTomAqin) 18:02.26, 19 Raymond (PHU) 19:23.82, 59 Suski (SEM) 20:09.16, 82 Hamilton (PHU) 20:37.98, 84 Harley (PHU) 20:38.30,

Boys

Team results: Class A 1 Melbourne Holy Trinity 69, 5 Indian Rocks Christian 203, 10 St. Petersburg Catholic 299, 11 Admiral Farragut 300, 20 Seffner Christian 470

Class 4A 1 Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas 101, 22 St. Petersburg 499

Individual results: Class A 1 Martins (Windermere) 15:44.23, 9 Peterson (Shore 16:29.89), 18 Quandt (IRC) 16:48.07, 21 McNamara (AdFar) 16:58.63, 35 Scoby (Shore) 17:19.94, 37 Ycaza (SPC) 17:23.63, 41 Beheshti (AdFar) 28:26.93, 42 Miles (Shore) 17:27.21, 43 Boeche (IRC) 17:27.43, 49 Trador (IRC) 17:34.03, 59 Weller (IRC) 17:42.01, 60 Artise (SPC) 17:42.07, 63 Cureton (Shore) 17:49.73, 74 Cusson (SPC) 17:58.40, 81 Cavonis (IRC) 18:07.52, 86 Carmona (SPC) 18:13.54, 87 Burrell (AdFar) 18:13.60, 91 Streer (IRC) 18:16.92, 92 Katz (Shore) 18:17.50, 100 Swihart (AdFar) 18:37.74

Class 4A 1 Diaz (Sun) 15:22.90, 23 Llewellyn (Cou) 16:23.42, 46 Mackie (PHU) 16:47.05, 62 Traxler (StP) 16:57.40, 72 Abernethy (StP) 17:07.28

State cross country: Shorecrest's Alex Eaton saves best race for last 11/09/13 [Last modified: Saturday, November 9, 2013 8:46pm]
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