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Jesuit expects no letdown

Even without a top national runner, the state champ returns another strong squad.

By SCOTT PURKS, Times Staff Writer
Published September 15, 2005

TAMPA - Jesuit no longer has a cross country "team."

What the Tigers have is a program.

Consider that last spring Jesuit, the defending Class 2A champions, lost one of the country's best runners in Andy Biladeau and several senior leaders, including guys such as Andrew Boza, who was a mainstay for four years.

All that said, this year's team might be just as good, perhaps better. And that's because the team is a little stronger from top to bottom as opposed to last season when it was a little "top heavy."

This season the six expected to lead the way are James Osborne, Phillip Scrivner, John Evans, Mike Akins, Cade Rivard and freshman Connor Revord.

At No.1 is senior Osborne, who without much effort is running in the mid 15-minute range for a 5K (3.1 miles). That means barring injury or some other setback, Osborne should push the 15-flat mark, or perhaps dip even lower by season's end.

"I ran about 60 miles a week over the summer and I'm putting in about 50 miles a week now," Osborne said. "So when I start tapering toward the end season it should be interesting."

Osborne, like most of Jesuit's runners, is humble and soft spoken and sets the bar of expectations high.

"(Biladeau) had such a high standard for what he wanted to accomplish and I know that helped me improve as much as I did," said Osborne, who has dropped his best times each year nearly 3 minutes from when he was a freshman. "I really don't think I would be as good as I am now if Andy (former state individual champion) wasn't here. ...

"Now I hope I can do the same thing (Biladeau) did because I know it helps the team to have someone meet a high standard (aka fast time). I want guys like Connor (Revord) to have high expectations and keep that thinking going."

During Wednesday's workout, everything seemed in order.

At 3:30 p.m. the runners, more than 25 including junior varsity, stretched under the school's bell tower, mixing in sit ups and push ups. Then they trotted across the street to Al Lopez Park where, as they do every Wednesday, they played a few minutes of ultimate Frisbee "to keep things fun," as Osborne said. Then they ran about 6 miles, going round and round the park. Seniors in a pack. Juniors in another. Sophomores and freshmen in another.

"I guess you could call it our relaxing day," Jesuit assistant coach Greg Maurin said. "You have to keep things as fresh as possible. You have to keep things going."

[Last modified September 15, 2005, 01:06:09]


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