DADE CITY — The chow line at the Bay Area Golden Corral was the place to celebrate Saturday after the best season in program history for Wiregrass Ranch.
The goal for the Bulls' boys and girls teams at state was for both to earn top-10 finishes. How about sixth place for both?
After capturing boys and girls conference, district and region titles, the two Bulls teams capped their seasons with sixth-place showings at the Class 3A state finals at Little Everglades Ranch. And judging from the youth on both sides, aiming for a top-five finish in 2010 is by no means a stretch.
"We both feel like we've established ourselves as a perennial top 10," said Wiregrass Ranch boys coach Chris Loth, also referring to coach Don Howard's girls squad. "We just have to take the next step."
The top girl for the Bulls was freshman Nikita Shah, who took 17th in 19 minutes, 32 seconds. Ariel Grey was 45th (20:26), Taylor Hixson 75th (21:06), Alexandra Diepholz (21:07) 76th and Marissa Tomei 87th (21:20). All return next season.
For the boys, the Bulls were led by Ryan Pulsifer in 26th (16:34) followed by Joshua Reilly (41st, 16:47), Delonzo Sharp (50th, 16:55), Logan Selzer (80th, 17:22) and Tyler Mattera (107th, 17:40). Sharp graduates, but Loth sat top freshman Ermias Bireda, who routinely scored in meets, with an injury.
Land O'Lakes had the next-best finish among area boys, taking eighth behind the strong running of senior Matt Schwartz. In his final high school race, Schwartz again topped all North Suncoast runners, finishing 11th (16:19).
Ridgewood's boys finished 13th, led by senior Tyler Camacho (52nd, 16:56). Sunlake was 22nd, paced by sophomore Kenneth Fessel (77th, 17:20).
For the girls, Shah outlasted all North Suncoast girls, including Mitchell junior Kelli Williams. Williams finished 23rd (19:38) and guided Mitchell to 18th. Land O'Lakes was 19th, led by senior Renea Porsch's 48th place (20:31).
In Class 2A, Pasco junior Anthony Plourde finished 40th (16:42) as the lone North Suncoast representative. Hernando County's lone representative was Springstead senior Jacklyn White in the Class 3A girls race. She finished 54th (20:39).
Izzy Gould can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 421-3886.