DADE CITY — Cross country teams from across the state gathered for two days at the Little Everglades Prestate meet so coaches and runners could measure themselves over the 3.1-mile course. There were races in multiple classifications so everyone could get a taste of what to expect come the state meet in late November.
Pasco's Anthony Plourde, a Dade City native, looked right at home, finishing third in Saturday's small-schools boys race in 16 minutes, 22.62 seconds. Though Plourde was 13 seconds behind winner Michael Babinc, the Pirates runner easily topped his time from last year (17:07).
"I felt strong going through the whole race," said Plourde, whose Pirates were ninth as a team. "I started pushing it more and more. I was really happy about my finish. I felt comfortable running here."
Meanwhile, the Wiregrass Ranch boys and girls teams made statements. The Bulls boys took first in Friday's varsity race with 49 points as Josh Reilly won in 16:18.63. Teammates Sam Hippely (16:43.58) and Ryan Pulsifer (16:43.70) finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
The Bulls girls team finished third (155 points) in the varsity race, behind winner Sarasota Riverview (49) and Melbourne (130). Marissa Tomei (21:13.70) was the Bulls' top finisher, in 25th, while Elise Cedre (21:17.40) was 28th.
Nature Coast's boys were fourth, led by Cody Van Natter's 11th-place finish (16:58), and Land O'Lakes was eighth.
Other individual North Suncoast finishers of note were Ridgewood's Kolby Watson (16:58.04), who was 15th in the large-schools boys race, and Ridgewood's Alyssa Baladad (20:57.02), 41st in the large-schools girls race.
In the girls elite race, Mitchell's Kellie Williams (19:14.07) fell a bit shy of her desired goal, but took 37th Saturday.
"I hoping to get under 19 (minutes)," Williams said. "It's really important to do well at this race. Everglades is like the perfect cross country course."