There are two guarantees about today's Pinellas County Athletic Conference cross country championships at Crescent Lake in St. Petersburg.
No. 1: Seminole senior Lou Snelling and Clearwater sophomore Shanon Burcham will take the starter's pistol as clear favorites.
No. 2: There are no more guarantees.
Snelling has dominated the boys' division and lived up to his top ranking at last week's Largo Invitational at Taylor Park. In a field that featured Dixie Hollins' John Hope, Largo's Lee Spielberger and Admiral Farragut's Luis Delfin, Snelling seemed almost to toy with his challengers before pulling away for the win in 15 minutes, 51 seconds.
The ever-calm Snelling downplayed the fact that the county's best were in the field. "I'm pleased with where I am right now," he said. "I'm looking forward to the conference meets."
Burcham also is looking forward to today's race. Her first-place finish in 11:49 at the Largo Invitational was a significant 24 seconds ahead of Lakewood's Emily Saunders, who figures to be Burcham's biggest challenger today.
"Shannon's running really well," Clearwater coach Kathy Biddle said. "I couldn't be more pleased."
While Snelling and Burcham go into the meet riding six-race win streaks and seem a lock to capture individual titles, the team picture is not as clear.
Largo, paced by Spielberger, Chris Bruns and Jacob Zamitto, has depth, but Seminole, Dunedin and East Lake will make things interesting.
"We feel like we can win this thing," said Largo coach Mike Beck (said). "This has been our goal all year."
Saunders, who defeated Northside Christian's Brianne Harrington the last time she raced at Crescent Lake, will lead Lakewood. Teammates Dianne Biniasz, Chastity Ott and Nicole Scott should finish in the top 15.
The meet begins at 4 p.m. with the girls junior varsity race. Boys jayvees start at 4:30, girls varsity at 5 and boys varsity at 5:30. Crescent Lake is at 22nd Avenue N and Fifth Street.