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Wiregrass cross country a blueprint for success

WESLEY CHAPEL

On a local running scale, they are the Rays. Wiregrass Ranch's boys cross country team, winner of zero races in its first two seasons of existence, is enjoying a breakthrough autumn highlighted by two meet titles. Like their wood-wielding counterparts in St. Petersburg, the Bulls have flourished with young talent groomed through a solid feeder system. And they're not done yet. As they prepare to compete in the small-school division of Saturday's enormous Little Everglades Pre-State Invitational, we take a by-the-numbers look at the Bulls' improbable season.

0 Meet titles won by the Bulls in their first two seasons

2 Meet titles the Bulls have won this year. They came within a point of a third title at the Zak Lukas Invitational in Brooksville. "Looking back on it now," second-year coach Chris Loth said, "in no way did I picture us coming within a point of (Class 3A power) Wharton at the Zak Lukas."

5 Sophomores among those top 10 Bulls runners. Four are freshmen, one is a junior.

5 Bulls runners who have eclipsed the 18-minute mark in a meet this season (sophomore Ryan Pulsifer, sophomore Josh Reilly, sophomore Logan Selzer, freshman Tyler Mattera, sophomore John Davis)

10 Bulls runners who have eclipsed the 19-minute mark in a meet this season

16:55.92 Personal-best time of Pulsifer, the Bulls' top runner

17:34.11 Personal-best time of Reilly, which helped Wiregrass Ranch win the small-school division of the recent flrunners.com Invitational in Titusville

21:00 Reilly's personal-best time last year, according to Loth. "He's been the one that's really put us over the top," Loth said. "I didn't know he'd be in my top five this year." 30 Age of Loth, a Long Island native and former walk-on runner at Niagara University in upstate New York. Loth has been track coach the past two seasons at John Long Middle School, helping Bulls girls coach (and first Wiregrass boys coach) Don Howard develop a distance-running feeder program.

85 Teams expected at Saturday's Little Everglades Pre-State Invitational, hosted by Wiregrass

>>Fast facts

Little Everglades Cross Country Invitational

Where/when: Little Everglades Ranch, Dade City, Saturday

Parking: $5 per car

Admission: $3 (5 and younger free)

Schedule: 7:30 — girls elite; 7:50 — boys elite; 8:10 — small-school girls varsity; 8:30 — large-school girls varsity; 8:50 — small-school boys varsity; 9:10 — large-school boys varsity; 9:30 — girls JV; 9:50 — boys JV; 10:10 — mixed open (no uniforms)

Local schools: Central, Hernando, Land O'Lakes, Nature Coast, Ridgewood, Wiregrass Ranch

Wiregrass cross country a blueprint for success 10/16/08 [Last modified: Friday, October 17, 2008 6:13pm]

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