Runner of the year: James Zentmeyer, Jr., Sickles
Why we picked him: Zentmeyer had a dominant season, finishing in the top four in eight meets. After finishing second at the county and districts, he found his rhythm when it mattered most. Zentmeyer won the Class 4A, Region 2 meet in 15:59.30 — beating the field by almost 30 seconds — but still came away disappointed. “I was really bummed,” Zentmeyer said. “I knew I was capable of running 15:30.”
Proudest accomplishment: Zentmeyer ran the best race of his life at the 4A state meet. Following the advice of his sister, a runner at Liberty University — pick a group you don’t think you can catch and let God keep you in the race — he stayed with the top runners from the beginning. The result was a personal-best 15:23.16 and a runnerup finish he still can’t explain. “I didn’t think I was capable of hanging with them,” Zentmeyer said.
Future plans: Zentmeyer still has a year of high school remaining. Eventually, he’d like to attend Liberty University to study aviation with hopes of becoming a pilot like both of his grandfathers. “I feel like it would be an awesome job to have,” Zentmeyer said. “You’re flying for a job. I feel like that would be fun.”
Did you know? Zentmeyer started running as something to do in the mornings before his home-school classes. He ran track as a freshman and picked up cross country last year at Sickles, his zoned public school. Zentmeyer said he enjoys being home schooled because of the freedom it provides. “You get a little bit more liberties,” Zentmeyer said. “If you’re busy and need to go somewhere, it’s not gonna kill you.”
Jack Guyton, Jr., Plant: District and county champion placed 13th at 4A state meet (16:08.62)
Jack Rogers, Jr., Robinson: District champ was third in county and had a top-50 finish at 3A state meet (16:25.99)
Tim O’Loughlin, Sr., Jesuit: Snagged a top-10 finish at 2A state meet (16:16.61) for the third-place Tigers
Paris Williams, So., Sickles: Had top-seven finishes at district and region meets before running a 16:40 at state
Vasilis Vasiloudes, Jr., Berkeley Prep: Had one of the county’s top finishes at state (16:46.28), to go with top-12 finishes at county, district and region meets
Phillip Robbins, Sr., Jesuit
Evan Collura, Jr., Plant
Daniel Dean, So., Middleton
John Bryant, Sr., Bloomingdale
Andrew Flynn, Jr., Newsome
Armwood: Jacob Rivera; Berkeley Prep: Leonel Ochoa; Bloomingdale: Andrew LeBlanc; Chamberlain: Cameron Purvis; Durant: Daniel Butler; Jesuit: Tyler Pratt, Danny Alvarez; Newsome: Andrew Flynn, Aaron Harper, Jonathan Governor; Plant: Carlos Andino, Rob Leverone, Robert Evans; Robinson: Fredrick Stanford, Manuel Tejeda; Seffner Christian: Cory Chambers; Sickles: Angel Maldonado; Steinbrenner: Andrew Keith, Thomas Keith, Drew Myers
Coach of the year
Brian Sears, Newsome. His Wolves didn’t have any superstars, but they had enough depth and team speed to win the Class 4A, District 7 title, finish second at the region meet and take 10th at state.
Runner of the year: Bailey Sullivan, Sr., Plant
Why we picked her: Sullivan was consistently one of the top runners on one of the county’s top teams. She broke the 19-minute mark in a sixth-place finish at the North Port Invitational in September. “That had always been a goal of mine, ever since freshman year,” Sullivan said. She did even better a few weeks later, running a 5K in 18:41.98 — the best time in the county this season — at the pre-state meet.
Proudest accomplishment: After struggling to a ninth-place finish at the county meet, Sullivan picked up her game in the final few races. She finished in the top three at districts and won the Class 4A, Region 2 championship in 18:52.30. “I was just focused on running as hard as I could,” Sullivan said. The next week, she took 16th at state for the sixth-place Panthers.
Future plans: Sullivan is still finishing her college applications to schools like Virginia and is unsure of where she’ll end up, but one thing is sure: She doesn’t plan to run competitively in college. Sullivan plans to major in finance and minor in Spanish.
Did you know? Sullivan is a Type-1 diabetic. The condition doesn’t affect her too much during practices. She typically checks her blood sugar halfway through practices, and an insulin pump lets her make any necessary adjustments. The bigger problems come on race days, and Sullivan has learned through trial and error what to eat and when to eat it before the starting gun sounds. “It kinda took four years to figure out,” Sullivan said. Sullivan’s extra-curricular activities include work with juvenile diabetes research groups.
Sneha Sathish, So., King: Had the quickest time of any county runners at 3A state meet (18:56.64) and had top-five finishes at county, district and region races
Anna Montgomery, Sr., Plant: County champion took fourth at the region meet and finished in 19:31.51 at 4A state meet
Eliana Ochoa, So., Brandon: County runnerup earned a district championship and finished 24th at 3A meet (19:22.09)
Abigail Grant, Jr., Sickles: District champion took 25th at 4A state meet (19:29.51)
Colleen Doherty, Jr., Holy Names: District champ ran a season-best 19:46.43 at state to finish 19th and help the Jaguars finish sixth as a team
Maggie Parrish, So., Chamberlain
Abigail Crowder, So., Plant
Julia DeYoung, Sr., Robinson
Maddy Hull, Sr., Robinson
Claire Snyder, Sr., Holy Names
Armwood: Lindsay Shealy; Berkeley Prep: Catelin Lipham; Bloomingdale: Kali Clemmer; Brandon: Rebekah Ochoa; Chamberlain: Emily Schonder, Quincy Mayer; Freedom: Lauren Arfaras, Megan Clark; Gaither: Rachel Cazares; King: Micaela Torres; Newsome: Emily Zwijacz, Ananda Miller, Marcella Benner; Plant: Kalen Leone, Samantha Barglof, Shelby Gilberto; Robinson: Madison Scanlan; Wharton: Mariah Henderson, Bryanna Rivers
Coach of the year
Ray Rodriguez, Holy Names. With three seniors, his Jaguars won the Class 2A, District 10 title, the school’s first region championship in almost a decade and finished sixth at state.