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PALM HARBOR - Tarpon Springs sophomore Kailand Cosgrove emerged from the trees at Chesnut Park, her legs splattered with mud and her first-place finish secure.
Cosgrove (19 minutes, 40 seconds) was one of the few female runners who went the right way at the Cougar Meet on Thursday. Many competitors, confused on the curvy course surrounded by trees and blanketed in spots by 2-foot puddles of mud, ran up to an extra half-mile.
"It was crazy," said Lakewood star Ali Crabb, one of the county's top runners, who got lost and finished out of the top 15. "I obviously don't know the course very well."
The meet, featuring the county's public school teams, was supposed to give coaches an early-season outlook. But even Seminole coach Bruce Calhoun, whose Warhawks swept both the boys and girls races left the race not knowing what to think.
"I don't think I can predict anything after this," Calhoun said. "Today was just a long workout."
Seminole senior Aaron Thomas (16:56) worked his way to an easy win in the boys' race. Thomas' teammate, Christian Homme (17:28), outkicked St. Petersburg senior Garrett Mackey (17:30) in the last 500 yards to take second. The Green Devils put four in the top 10 to Seminole's three, but the one-two combo of Thomas and Homme helped give Seminole its winning four-point cushion.
Seminole's 14-point victory in the girls' race came with a few twists and (wrong) turns. The Warhawks were without Times runner of the year Heather Nicolosi, who said she could be out for the season with a stress fracture. Seminole runners Katelin Foley and Rachael Jones followed a wayward pack that included Crabb and Boca Ciega's Lindsey Brooks.
"It was going great; I was in about third place with a 6:02 first mile and on my way to a PR (personal record)," Brooks said. "Then me and Ali made another loop around the lake, came back and there was like 30 girls ahead of me. It was disheartening."
Cosgrove, a triathlete in her first year of cross country, pulled away near the mile mark and won by more than 90 seconds.