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The Tigers place five in the top 26 to nab their fourth overall boys championship.
By MIKE TOMPKINS
Published November 13, 2005
DADE CITY - In Saturday's state finals, runners faced adverse conditions in their pursuit of a championship. Not only was the steep landscape of Little Everglades Ranch grueling on the individuals, the increasing heat had heart rates rising just as quickly as the temperature.
Not to be defeated by a few hills and some heat, the Jesuit boys received a balanced team performance, cruising to their second straight Class 2A championship - fourth overall - with a 78-122 victory over Hernando.
The Tigers placed five in the top 26, dominating the field of 178. They were led by senior James Osborne's second-place finish. Osborne led Bishop Kenny's Luke Russell (16:02) coming into the home stretch, but was outsprinted at the end, finishing in 16:10. Teammates Conner Revord, a freshman, landed a seventh-place finish (16:46) and senior Phillip Scrivner was 19th (17:17). Michael Akins came in 24th (17:27) and John Evans was 26th (17:30).
"I felt like if we ran to our potential, we could win," Tigers coach Mike Boza said. "I just wanted the kids to know that if they didn't win, they'd live to run another day. That being said, (winning a state championship) is and always will be the biggest goal of the year. And with the conditions at this course, it's a battle of attrition.
"We maybe didn't get great performances, but I think you'll be hard pressed to find a group of five guys here who didn't have a better day."
Added Osborne, who improved four spots from last year's sixth-place finish: "I was hoping to win, but if I had to choose between the two, I would take the team title any day of the week."
In the Class 3A boys race, Jefferson's Evander Jones (16:11) finished second, six seconds behind Celebration's Sean Blaney. It was the best showing ever by a Jefferson competitor.
"I knew that this was going to be a difficult course," said Jones, who did specific workouts to prepare for the terrain. "I'm not disappointed. (Blaney) got me. I've got to respect that."
In the same race, Brandon earned a fifth-place showing, and Wharton came in sixth, led by Baker Burchfield's fifth-place finish (16:40). In Class A, Berkeley Prep's Richard Blake (16:46) helped his team to a second-place finish with a fourth-place showing.
For the girls, Wharton fell short in the Class 3A final, falling 85-91 to Satellite. Despite the Wildcats' balanced effort, in which five placed in the top 25, once coach Wes Newton broke the news to his girls, the tears said it all.
"I'm tremendously proud of them," Newton said. "We couldn't have run any better. ... We did our jobs. We were hoping they (Satellite) didn't do theirs. Unfortunately they did."
Also in Class 3A, Plant finished fourth, led by sophomore Brigithe Moreno (18:59), who also was fourth, besting Wharton's Jessica Forrester (19:39), who led the Wildcats with an eighth-place finish.
In Class 4A, Gaither's Amanda Quick (19:19) finished fifth, much to her disappointment. Though it was her last high school race, she was not ready to call it a career.
"It just kept getting hotter (Saturday)," said Quick, who also was fifth last year. "This Florida weather is so unpredictable. Because of that, some girls beat me today that shouldn't have. But you know what, I put it all on the line, and it's not like I'm not going to run again. I love running. I'm never gonna stop."