Personal victories at districts for Sharks XC

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By Jenna McKenna

Mount Dora is no place to PR, but Zoe Stuber did it at last week's Class A District 3 cross country meet. Mount Dora Bible hosted the district meet Thursday, on a course that has been described as "challenging," "brutal," and "get ready for the worst times of the season."

The campus is draped over a bowl in the rolling hills north of Orlando, and due either to the whim of fate or the caprice of the folks who laid out the course, most of the downhills are on energy-reflecting asphalt, while most of the uphills are on energy-sucking grass.

"That's what makes me so mad," Stuber said of her 24:56 best-ever time, also the top finish for Cedar Key girls. "If I ran that well here, I could have done a lot better on a flat course."

No Cedar Key runners qualified to advance to the regional meet, but most had very good races, reflecting the amount of work they'd put into the season. Seniors Micah Shelby and Justin Speegle finished 32nd and 43rd in 20:03 and 20:42, respectively. Joseph Bishop, Evan Lyons, Frankie Beckham and Aaron Esposito also ran well.

Girls ran well, too, with Stuber's big effort urging the rest on to good races. Megan Stuber placed second among Cedar Key girls and 41st overall. Caely Hibbits, Chloe Reynolds and Caitlin Goss also finished better than they expected on the difficult course.

Shelby, one of the team's three seniors, said he would be using his cross country and track resume to approach colleges. "I'd like to run at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., but I am also talking to some other small schools in Florida," he said. "I hope to get on as a fourth or fifth runner."

The district meet wraps up the season for Sharks cross country, but don't expect runners to loaf over the winter. They'll need to keep up their fitness base up in order to be ready for next spring's track season, a season for which all have high hopes.

Cross country and track head coach Brad Penney said he'll get a look at everyone in the spring and see where they?ll be best able to help the team win.

Shelby, of course, can count on running the longer events.

"I'll probably use him in the half, the mile and the two mile," Penney said, "depending on the meet."

Penney noted that Shelby had broken the school mile record, setting a new one at 5:01. "He'll still have to get faster," Penney said.

Justin Speegle, another senior and a runner who stuck close to Shelby this cross country season, will probably see the quarter, half and triple jump, wherever he is needed.

"He placed second in the district (in triple jump) last year," Penney said.

Penney said he is also looking forward to evaluating the girls for track season. He's hoping that in addition to the cross country stalwarts, sprinters Sam Beckham and Kacey Miller are also getting ready this winter.

"It's all about winning meets," he said. "They'll enter different events depending on what we need most."

Overall winners:

Boys' team winner: Trinity Prep, 28 points. Cedar Key boys placed 12th with 301 points.

Boys' individual winner: Josh Wolfe, First Academy, 16:43.44.

Girls' team winner: Geneva, 60 points.

Girls' individual winner: Mollie Jones, Geneva, 19:30.00.

Cedar Key results:

Boys: Micah Shelby, 20:03.59; Justin Speegle, 20:42.44; Joseph Bishop, 23:11.09; Evan Lyons, 24:22.00; Frankie Beckham, 24:30.84; Aaron Esposito, 27:01.03.

Girls: Zoe Stuber, 24:56.50; Megan Stuber, 27:37.81; Caely Hibbits, 29:05.34; Chloe Reynolds, 29:28.50; Caitlin Goss, 30:04.22.