Local Sports

Going out in style

Sebring sent its boys team to the FHSAA Cross Country Finals in Apalachee Saturday, while Lake Placid sent just senior Dalton Shelton, as both schools concluded the 2013 season in stellar fashion. Miami's Belen Jesuit Prep breezed to first place in the Class 3A meet with 86 points, and the Blue Streaks finished 15th out of 24 teams, accumulating 441 points along with a handful of top 100 times. Meanwhile, Shelton was the only runner to represent either of the Green Dragons cross country teams in the Class 2A meet. He finished in the top 15 after just missing the final cut for state last year. "I'm so proud of how the guys ran," said Streaks coach Jayson Bass. "This was the first time this year we have raced this caliber of runners."
Bass noted that despite the caliber of talent Sebring brought to the meet, the speed of the track caught some of his Streaks off guard. "There was a hill that they called 'the wall,' and they had to run it twice," Bass said. "I was unaware of it so it caught the guys by surprise." "The rest of the course was pretty fast, and I think the speed at the start really surprised the boys because of how fast it was." The shock and awe of the faster course did little to dispel a few solid performances though. Sebring junior Eric Foster placed highest for the Streaks, finishing in 53rd with an impressive time of 16:33.52. Freshman Malcolm Holden was next, coming in 93rd at 17:21.72. Holdman was the only Sebring freshman to compete in the state finals. Damian Foster finished 99th, completing the course in 17:28.11. He is the twin brother of Eric. Fellow juniors Wesley Koning and Andrew Rivera were next, finishing 116th and 153rd, respectively, with times of 17:39.43 and 18:20.14. Sophomore Tim Koning and junior Saul Marentes rounded out the Streaks final spots. Koning finished 166th with a time of 18:42.90, while Marentes was 174th at 19:31.17. With so many runners returning, Bass is optimistic about next season. "I'm returning all of my guys, so it will be a really exciting year," he said. "This offseason we plan on working had and coming into the season ready to finish in the top 10 at state." And it doesn't hurt that the Streaks now have experience with an extremely fast course. "Now most of the guys will be ready for track," Bass added. "I believe people know who Sebring High School is now." Meanwhile, Shelton placed 12th as an individual for Lake Placid, finishing with a sizzling time of 16:24.61. It was Dalton's personal best for the season. "What a great kid," said Dragons coach Scott Morgan. "That's a good time. He may have had a little bit better time two years ago, but that's awesome for this year. You can't beat No. 12 in the state." Shelton, a standout on both the track and in the pool for the Green Dragons, was sick at last year's state-qualifying meet. Even with his aches and pains, though, he nearly qualified for the final round. "It'll be a while before I run into another athlete that wants to work that hard," Morgan said. "No doubt about it." Morgan also praised Shelton's dedication to his craft for keeping him one step ahead of the competition. "At every workout, no matter what, it was 100-percent effort every time," Morgan said. "He was awesome to coach. And we're looking forward to his track season too." Shelton still has another semester of high school left, but that hasn't stopped colleges from looking at him. Morgan said that the University of South Florida has been one of a few notable programs to show interest. "USF has been emailing me about him," Morgan said. "I know they're for sure interested, but the decision is up to him." bhoward@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5841