At his first big meet of the season, Countryside's Andrew Llewellyn finished 11th.
Llewellyn, his nose bright red and stuffed, knew exactly why he was unable to stay near the front.
"I couldn't breathe," Llewellyn told his coach.
His condition worsened and flu-like symptoms sidelined him for a month. Thursday, he returned to compete in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference meet.
This time, Llewellyn prevailed.
Reeling in the front-runners with a devastating kick, Llewellyn won his first conference title in a personal-record 16 minutes, 43 seconds.
"It was a struggle for a while being sick," he said. "I really got back about a week ago. But I ran hard in practice and had some really good workouts that me gave me a lot of confidence coming into this race."
At the start, Osceola's AJ Jimenez and Hunter McCann set the pace. Llewellyn waited until the second mile to make his move.
Jimenez and McCann were side-by-side as they headed toward the finish line. Jimenez made one final push for second. By having two of the top three runners, the Warriors had enough to defend their title, outscoring Northeast 39-61.
St. Petersburg's Elliot Traxler was fourth and Northeast's Nick Spring fifth.
In the girls race, Palm Harbor University's Sarah Raymond made the most of what has been an abbreviated season to win in 19:43, one second off the personal record she set at the state meet two years ago.
Raymond ran in just her third meet of the season due to commitments with her club soccer team.
"I just really felt good and decided to go for it," she said. "I'm definitely pleased with what I was able to do."
She also helped the Hurricanes defend their title with 59 points, 11 ahead of Osceola.
The Warriors' Kaley Eisenbrei was second, followed by Seminole's Olivia Suski, Boca Ciega's Alexis Stevens and Largo's Tiffany Kern.