Pinellas boys cross country preview

The 2010 boys cross country season will not be characterized by a changing of the guard but the return of an old one.

For years, Seminole dominated the boys cross country scene, winning district and conference titles en route to becoming a state title contender. The Warhawks, though, were challenged the past three seasons by Countryside, which fielded a deep lineup that was, top to bottom, the best in the county.

But graduation hit the Cougars hard. They said goodbye to their top three runners from last season. And they’re not alone. Of the eight runners who were either named runner of the year or first-team all-county last year, six graduated.

The only two returners are Seminole’s Chase Sutton and Jacob Hudak. That gives the Warhawks star power and makes them the leader of the pack.

Runners to watch
1. Chase Sutton, Seminole: The senior was the Times boys runner of the year last season when placing 11th at the Class 4A state meet, the highest finish of any county boys runner in any classification.
2. Jacob Hudak, Seminole: The junior posted his personal best at districts and kept getting better as last season went along.
3. Caelum Schandle, Shorecrest: Had the team’s highest finish at state (31st) and helped the Chargers finish a county-best ninth overall in Class A.
4. Rheese Wiltshire, Shorecrest: Placed seventh at regionals, leading the Chargers to a top-three finish in team standings.
5. Blake Arnold, Admiral Farragut: The Blue Jackets’ top runner placed eighth at last year’s region meet.
6. Nick Finneo, Countryside: The team’s top returning runner;  placed fourth at conference last year.
7. Tyler Lewis, Largo: Had the county’s second-best time at last year’s 3A region meet and shined in road races this summer.

Top three teams
1. Seminole: No team can match the depth of the Warhawks, who should win most major county meets and be a contender once the postseason rolls around.
2. Shorecrest: A solid lineup with plenty of young runners, the Chargers could place in the top five at state.
3. Countryside: Sure, the Cougars lost a lot, but they have a great group of coaches that can bring out the best in runners.

For the fans
District meets, Nov. 1-6: The first six placing teams and top 15 runners in meets in which 14 or fewer teams are entered, and the first eight placing teams and top 15 runners in each meet in which 15 or more teams are entered advance.
Region meets, Nov. 11-13: The first six placing teams and top 15 runners in each meet advance to state.
State finals, Nov. 20: Little Everglades Ranch, Dade City

District assignments
4A, District 4: Alonso, Bradenton Manatee, Chamberlain, Clearwater, Countryside, East Lake, Freedom, Gaither, Northeast, North Port, Palm Harbor University, Pinellas Park, Plant, Port Charlotte, Riverview, Sarasota, Sarasota Riverview, St. Petersburg, Seminole, Tampa Bay Tech, Wharton.
3A, District 5: Bradenton Bayshore, Boca Ciega, Braden River, Dixie Hollins, Dunedin, Englewood Lemon Bay, Gibbs, Lakewood, Lakewood Ranch, Largo, Osceola, Palmetto, Tarpon Springs
2A, District 5: Academy of the Holy Names, Auburndale, Avon Park, Berkeley Prep, Frostproof, George Steinbrenner, Jesuit, Lake Wales, Lennard, Lakeland McKeel, Lakeland Tenoroc, Middleton, Mulberry, Robinson, Spoto, St. Petersburg Catholic, Strawberry Crest, Tampa Catholic.
A, District 5: Academy at the Lakes, Admiral Farragut, Bayshore Christian, Calvary Christian, Cambridge, Canterbury, Carrollwood Day, Clearwater Central Catholic, Indian Rocks Christian, Keswick Christian, Lakeland Christian, Lakeland Santa Fe,  Lake Wales Vanguard, Northside Christian, Seffner Christian, Shorecrest Prep, Tampa Bay Christian, Tampa Prep,  Walker Memorial Junior, Winter Haven All Saints,
Independent: Lakeside Christian

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