NEW PORT RICHEY — One second separated Mitchell's Kelli Williams and Wiregrass Ranch's Nikita Shah in the girls' 5K race, but the gap would be much greater in the team points standings as both the Bulls' girls and boys teams won Sunshine Athletic Conference cross country titles early Saturday morning at Starkey Park.
"This is what we wanted to do," Wiregrass Ranch coach Don Howard said.
"We consider this the second-most important race of the year, and we put a lot of emphasis into winning this race."
Williams won her first race of the year, her finish in 20 minutes, 19 seconds just edging Shah. The Bulls, who finished with 25 points, placed five runners in the top 10, including Ariel Gray (20:32), Taylor Hixson (21:19), Alex Diepholz (21:48) and Kelsey Sturman (21:57). Land O'Lakes took second with 42 points and Mitchell (103) was fourth, a point behind Gulf.
"It just feels really good to win my first race," Williams said.
On the boys side, Land O'Lakes' Matt Schwartz took first in 16:49, six seconds slower than his victory at the Mitchell Invitational earlier this season but good enough to finish comfortably ahead of the field Saturday. Wiregrass Ranch's Ryan Pulsifer was second in 17:08.
"It feels amazing, and I was feeling like I would not be able to do it," Schwartz said.
However, Pulsifer's finish, along with Delonzo Sharp's fourth place, helped propel Wiregrass Ranch to first with 36 points. Ridgewood was second with 68 points and Land O'Lakes took third.