The Lakewood High girls won the championship trophy at the St. Petersburg City Meet Tuesday, as expected, with Kristin Conner leading a pack of Spartans to five of the top eight places.
The boys race, however, was razor close.
When the places were added up, it was Class A Admiral Farragut squeezing out a five-point win over favored Dixie Hollins. The Class 4A Rebels had defeated the Blue Jackets in a meet earlier this season, but with all seven Farragut runners clocking personal records, and sophomore Anthony Rintala grabbing second place behind Dixie's Chris Schmidt, the defending champion Blue Jackets took home the Bob Evans Trophy for the second straight year.
"Everyone had to run a perfect race for us to beat Dixie," said Phil Barnhill, Admiral Farragut's coach, "and they did. We played with it on the blackboard, plugging in our runners where they had to finish, and they came through. It was fantastic."
Rintala was followed by teammates Chris Malfant (4), Nick Tellnow (7), George Spoto (12) and Andre Fernandez (13) for their winning total of 38. The Blue Jackets are the defending state Class A champions and currently ranked No. 1 in the state.
For Schmidt, undefeated in the bay area this season, it was a relatively easy win as he took command with an opening 5:01 mile, then cruised in with a 15:20 time for 3 miles, his best ever.
"I wanted to run away from everybody after the first mile," said Schmidt, a junior. "I was pretty sure I was going to win it."
Girls race: Although the girls team race was lopsided, the individual dual between Conner and Dixie's Marjorie Schmidt was at issue. Schmidt had beaten Conner earlier in the season.
The friendly rivals took the opening lap on the Lakewood track in tandem, then Conner began to surge and never let up.
"I'm tired of finishing second (she finished second to Liz Lopacki of Manatee at Fort Myers on Saturday)," said Conner, who is ranked No. 3 in the state for Class 3A. "I'd finished second in almost every meet this year. So today I wanted to go out real hard (5:42 first mile) then continue strong the rest of the way." She finished in 11:42, 15 seconds ahead of Schmidt.
Conner's effort was supported by Jill Stone (3), Heather Levering (6), Dianna Biniasz (7) and Gina Stone (8). They finished within a range of 1 minute, 18 seconds.
"It meant a lot for us to keep winning the city championship," said coach Joel Isles of the seventh-ranked (3A) Spartans. "We've been running well all season, but didn't win an invitational till last Saturday at Fort Myers. Both Kristin and Jill ran strong races. Jill (a sophomore) has been running better every race this year and she does it by running negative splits, meaning running the second mile faster than the first and thereby passing a lot of people."
Julie Bintz of Northside Christian finished fourth to help the Class A Mustangs capture the runner-up trophy. They were followed by Dixie Hollins and Northeast.
Notes: Conner and Schmidt will compete against each other for the third time this season at the Dunedin Invitational on Oct. 17 at Highlander Park. Brianne Harrington, an eighth-grade student at St. Jude School in St. Petersburg, was allowed to run in the high school JV race. Although she was an unofficial entry, she won the race. Kari Graham, a freshman at Admiral Farragut, continues to pioneer women's athletics at the former all-boy school. As the first girl member of the cross country team, she finished fourth in 15:55. She also is on the diving team this season, and played basketball and soccer last season. Graham, the granddaughter of former Cleveland Browns quarterback Otto Graham, was one of six girls who were firsts at Admiral Farragut in 1990. She's a freshman and an A student.
(Based on comparative finishes, weighted in favor of recent performances)
1. Chris Schmidt, Dixie Hollins
2. Lou Snelling, Seminole
3. Mike Calvin, Clearwater Catholic
4. Anthony Rintala, Adm. Farragut
5. Damon Friedman, Gibbs
6. Chris Malfant, Admiral Farragut
7. Jason Sweetapple, Northeast
8. Raymond Friedman, Gibbs
9. Jesse Kier, Clearwater
10. Nick Tellnow, Admiral Farragut
1. Kristin Conner, Lakewood
2. Megan Meadows, Largo
3. Marge Schmidt, Dixie Hollins
4. Kristin Kaineg, Seminole
5. Jill Stone, Lakewood
6. Jeannette Holmberg, East Lake
7. Julie Bintz, Northside Christian
8. Itziar Piquer, Clearwater
9. Mary Harrison, Clearwater
10. Lisa Miller, Dixie Hollins