For Andy Biladeau and the rest of the Jesuit team, it was beautiful day just to get out and stretch his legs a little bit.
For everyone else in the Class 2A, Region 3 boys field it was a fight to figure out which other five teams were going to earn a berth in next weekend's state championships.
Jesuit posted a perfect score by placing all five of its runners in positions 1-5 to win the region crown. The Tigers were followed by Hernando, Immokalee, St. Petersburg Catholic, Lemon Bay and Bishop Verot, all of which will go to state.
On the girls side, it was Gulf's Danielle Florey taking home the individual title with a three-mile time of 20:34, beating Academy of the Holy Names' Sara Petrick by 11 seconds. Academy won the team title with a score of 35, beating Gulf by 29 points. Hernando, St. Petersburg Catholic, LaBelle and Bishop Verot rounded out the top six and will all be back at Ed Radice Park Saturday for the state championships.
"All I've wanted all season was to feel good about myself after a race," Petrick said. "Finally, today, I feel good. This was a good race for us. We've been working hard all year, running hard after school and it's good that it's paying off."
Petrick and teammate Aileen Fletcher led the early part of the race before Fletcher fell back to the pack after the first mile. Petrick remained the leader but Florey finally caught her with about a half-mile to go, making the pass and then holding on for the win.
"I just wanted to get there," Florey said. "I don't know if she slowed down or if I sped up but i was able to pass her and become region champion. That's pretty awesome."
Petrick, a junior, said her goal now is medal at state and help the Jaguars place higher than their fourth place showing when she was an eighth grader.
While she was cooling down after her race, Biladeau was making quick work of the boys field, winning by 44 seconds over his nearest teammate, runner-up James Osborne, with a time of 15:54.
"I felt pretty good today," Biladeau said. "I felt strong. I'm almost on top of my game. A couple easy days will be good for me, I'm still a little tired."
St. Petersburg Catholic secured fourth place thanks to Robert Yevich's 12th place finish in 17:30 and Sam Secord in 14th with a time of 17:40. The Baron's remaining scorers were Alex Lansky, David Stiles and Weston Wall.
Tampa Catholic finished ninth and Newsome was 10th.
A-2: Buc girls make state
LARGO _ Two weeks after beating Indian Rocks Christian to capture the Bay Conference meet, the Berkeley Prep girls found out Friday just why they did.
With No. 2 runner Janelle Hewelle healthy and able to improve 11 positions on her conference finish, the Golden Eagles reclaimed their standing as the best team in Region 2 with an 80-90 victory at Taylor Park to advance to next week's state meet.
Indian Rocks' Melissa Kotchman was an easy winner in 19 minutes, 45 seconds, even though that time was 49 seconds slower than her winning time on the same course this year. Berkeley Prep's Farrah Elchahal was second, 17 seconds behind.
Hewelle, a seventh-grader, was eighth in 21:03.
"The difference was their No. 2 being healthy," said Berkeley Prep coach Eileen Daly.
The Bucs were third at districts last week, but essentially used the meet as a tune-up after gearing up for the conference meet. Daly said she didn't think that had any effect on the Bucs powering back up for regionals.
"My thought was, it's hard to race four tough races in a row and we really wanted to win conference to hang that banner in our gym where everyone could see it so we lightened up last week."
The Berkeley Prep girls were the only Hillsborough County team to advance to state. The Buc boys were ninth, and Tampa Prep boys and girls were both 11th out of 12 teams.
In the boys race, Indian Rocks Christian senior Nathan Holden was the individual winner as the Golden Eagles won the team title with 26 points, 26 more than second-place Frostproof.
_ JOHN C. COTEY