SARASOTA — At the start of the boys Class 4A, District 4 cross country race, Seminole's Chase Sutton was boxed in among runners jostling to gain position.
His main rival, Chamberlain's Max del Monte, avoided the traffic and surged to a small lead through the first couple hundred yards.
"I got off to a bad start, and I was in a predicament," Sutton said. "I thought I was going to have to get rough and pushed myself through to get room."
Sutton's teammate, Nicholas Homme, was among the tight pack of runners and moved to the side to give Sutton wiggle room.
For more than 2 miles, the race was in doubt. Sutton caught up enough to hang on del Monte's shoulder. Del Monte tried several times to shake Sutton, gaining a slight advantage, only to see it quickly disappear.
In the backstretch, del Monte drew slightly ahead, but his surge was not enough. Sutton answered with yet another move, and this time del Monte could not answer. Sutton pulled away and reached the finish line farther ahead than at any other point in the 3.1-mile race, winning in 15 minutes, 52.75 seconds, nearly four seconds ahead of del Monte.
"This was my toughest race of the year," Sutton said. "Max took it out really hard, and I had a lot of catching up to do. He made what felt like 10 surges to get ahead, but I stuck on him and was able to win."
The Warhawks' Jacob Hudak finished ninth in 16:36.97. That was enough to help Seminole finish fourth in the team standings with 89 points.
Countryside's Ricy Brown was fourth (16:23.42), and St. Petersburg's Cameron Wheeler was 11th (16:45.77). The Green Devils were eighth as a team and advanced to the region meet.
In the girls race, St. Petersburg had three runners in the top 12 and finished third overall with 104 points. The Green Devils' Savannah Dearden was seventh (19:54.16), followed by teammates Alex Eaton in 11th (19:56.99) and Erin Waterman in 12th (19:59.31). Northeast's Amanda Spring was 15th (20:10.39).
Northeast (fifth) and Seminole (eighth) join the Green Devils in moving on as teams to the region meet.