Time, the medium in which all runners flourish or fail, was especially precious to Pinellas County's boys and girls at Saturday's Little Everglades Prestate Invitational.
There were nearly 80 top teams participating on the course that will host the state meet next month. Because of that, county runners knew it would be difficult to flourish. So they focused on the clock instead of their opponents. And that's where many thrived.
In the girls small schools race, Northside Christian's Katelyn Greenleaf stayed with the lead pack and finishing fifth in 19 minutes, 20.26 seconds behind winner Jana Stolting of Maclay (18:14).
"I was fourth after the first lap, and I tried to make up ground, but it was hard," Greenleaf said. "Still, I'm happy with my time. That was a personal best for the season, and it was one second away from a personal record."
She was followed by teammate Victoria Goodwin (13th in 19:54) and Clearwater Central Catholic's Laura Nauret (18th in 20:41).
In the boys small schools race, the Marauders' Tobias Probst finished ninth - behind winner Patrick Swain of Maclay (16:34) - in a personal-record 16:59.
"The big thing I wanted to do was get under 17 minutes, which I did," Probst said. "I was real happy with that considering this is a slow course with lots of hills."
Northeast's John Zurek took eighth (16:51) in the boys large school race, won by South Lake's Josh Wolfe in 16:35, and Largo's Gabe Ramos was ninth (16:57).
"I tried to go out with the top 10-15 guys," Zurek said. "Some of those started falling off and I used that to my advantage."
The Vikings' Elyse Snyder was ninth (20:25) in the girls' large school race won by Melbourne's Vanessa Valentine (19.27).
Keswick was 14th as a team in the elite girls race, led by Hannah Palm (45th in 19:58). Kathryn Fluehr of the Community School of Naples led the way in 18:01.
"The top 15 is about right where we should be at this point of the season," Keswick coach Fred Meinke said. "I was pleased because we were in the elite race and our girls still did well."