Sunday, Nov 23, 2014
Sports

2013 Hernando Today All-County Boys Cross Country Team


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Runner of the Year

James Harkless

Nature Coast - Senior

COMMENTS: Third-year starter . Three-time All-County selection . Unanimous choice as Runner of the Year . Also a terrific half-miler for the Sharks' district champion track and field team . In 2011, he posted six top-10 finishes . Notched his fastest time placing fourth overall in the Class 2A, Region II Meet at NCT in 16:48.00 . One of five county runners to compete in a season-high 11 meets . A year later, Harkless again competed in a season-high 11 3.1-mile meets . Was the first Shark to the finish line thrice (Lukas Invitational, Seffner Christian Invitational, Wiregrass Ranch) . Placed in the top 10 six times (first at Lukas; tenth at Seffner Christian; fifth at Wiregrass Ranch; fourth at Hernando/Citrus Distance Classic; third in 2A-District 6 at Mount Dora Bible and seventh in 2A-II at Orlando-Lake Nona) . Of the county's 64 runners, he posted the fastest 5K clocking at 16:44.81 at the Zak Lukas Invitational in Brooksville . Finished 71st in the 2A state finals in 17:26.89 . Enjoyed a dream-like senior campaign in 2013 . Competed in a county-high 10 5K races . Was the first Shark to the finish line in all 10 events . Was never beaten by another Hernando County opponent . Notched a school-record five individual victories (NCT Invitational, Mitchell Invitational, Largo Invitational, Citrus Invitational at Inverness' Whispering Pines Park and Hernando/Citrus Distance Classic at McKethan Lake) . Set another school record with back-to-back-to-back wins at NCT, Mitchell and Largo (Hernando County record is four in a row by Hernando's Ben Martucci in 2006) . Set a Shark record with six career wins, surpassing Cody Van Natter's five victories (Hernando County 5K mark is held by Martucci with 11 career wins) . With the exception of his first race (Lecanto Invite) and his last (FHSAA Finals at Tallahassee's Apalachee Regional Park) - Harkless finished in the top 10 in eight straight races, setting another school record (county record is held by Martucci, who placed in the top 10 a total of 10 times in 11 races in 2006) . Closed out an outstanding prep career placing 21st at states in 16:34.55 leading the Sharks to a 22nd-place finish . Harkless concluded his Shark career ranked fifth among the school's 66 all-time runners.

QUOTES: "This year was like night and day for James. . He never blossomed with the three terrific kids who graduated last year. . This year, he grabbed the reigns of being the best and never let go - it really was the 'James Harkless Show.' . James ran the same way in every meet: up front. . He was our hardest worker and always seemed to be improving. . There aren't too many guys that post their personal best at states, but that's James. . I'm really going to miss his great sense of humor."

- Nature Coast head coach Eric Milholland

"James is a powerful runner. . He's looks good and brings it in every race. . He's a very consistent distance runner. . I hear from all the other runners that he's a really good kid, too."

- Springstead head coach Brandon Wright

"James was an outstanding athlete and was really dedicated to the sport."

- Central head coach Jen Merschbach

"It can't be anyone else. James won the majority of the meets he ran in. . He's a very consistent runner - something I really like - and he's a class act as a person. . Austin (Mulyck) might be the Sharks' most improved runner, but Harkless was the best."

- Hernando head coach David Wilson

"He dominated the county competition; there's no other way to say it."

- Weeki Wachee head coach Bob Croyle

James Amodie

Springstead - Senior

COMMENTS: Competed in cross country for three seasons . First-time All-County selection . As a sophomore in 2011, he competed in eight 5K meets and finished ranked 14th in the local circuit behind a personal-best 18:08.60 during the 3A-6 Meet at McKethan Lake . Was never the first Eagle to the finish line . In 2012 as a junior, Amodie competed in eight 3.1-mile races . Ranked second-fastest on the team behind All-County pick Carl Zee . Was the first Eagle across the finish line six times . Cracked the Hernando County Top 10 ranking sixth behind a personal-best 17:32.76 at the Zak Lukas Invitational . Finished in the top 10 in two meets (sixth at Zak Lukas, eighth at Hernando/Citrus Distance Classic) . As a senior he began the season slowly due to an injury . Competed in seven meets . Was the first Eagle to the finish line once - during the 3A-7 Meet at McKethan Lake placing seventh overall in a personal record of 17:16.52 . Was Hernando County's lone male representative at the rugged 3A-II Meet at Orlando-Lake Nona placing 64th (18:11.20) . Over the 12-year history of 5Ks covering 70 thinclads, Amodie leaves as the Eagles' fastest-ever runner.

QUOTES: "He's a kid that ran all summer in preparation for the season, but got hurt. . Showed a lot of guts fighting back. . He essentially ran hurt all season. . We're going to miss his drive. James always wanted to do well."

- Springstead head coach Brandon Wright

Austin Gray

Central - Senior

COMMENTS: Three-year varsity performer . Ran under three different head coaches in three seasons . First-time All-County selection . As a first-year sophomore in 2011, Gary competed in eight meets . He was overshadowed by Bear senior Zach Hall . Led CHS to the finish line twice (Land O' Lakes Invitational at Crews Lake and Central Invite) . Concluded his first season ranked 10th in the local circuit . Seasonal highlight was a 17:37.50 clocking placing 24th during the year-end 3A-6 Meet . Junior season featured three meets . Led the Bears to the finish line in all three . Due to the inactivity, he slumped to 15th in the final Honor Roll in 18:49.00 . Under skipper Jen Merschbach in 2013, Gray went out with a bang . Competed in a team-high seven meets for the Bears . Remarkably, he led CHS to the finish line each time . Posted three top-10 finishes (third at NCT Invitational, sixth at the Hernando/Citrus Distance Classic and seventh during the 2A-7 Meet) . Saved his best for last behind a career-best 17:26.54 clocking in the rain during the 2A-II Meet at NCT . Finished the season ranked fourth in the local circuit.

QUOTES: "Austin's teammates really looked up to him. . He was a great motivator and great athlete. . Hard worker. . What we'll miss most is his sense of humor, great motivation and hard work."

- Central head coach Jen Merschbach

Jai Jackson

Springstead - Senior

COMMENTS: Like his teammate Amodie, he competed for SHS for three seasons . First-time All-County selection . In 2011, Jackson competed in eight meets and never once finished higher than 30th . Placed 48th during the 3A-6 Meet in 19:10.60 . Finished his first season ranked 19th in the local circuit with a 18:37.98 . In Year 2, Jackson was again relegated to middle-of-the pack status across seven meets . Was ranked fourth on his team and finished the season ranked 10th in the circuit in 18:27.00 . Enjoyed a breakout senior campaign . After never pacing the Mariner Boulevard thinclads to the finish in his first 15 meets, he led SHS to the tape six times in seven 5K races . Finished in the top 10 twice (fourth at NCT Invitational and seventh at Hernando/Citrus Distance Classic) . Posted a career-best 17:36.66 during his 17th-place finish at the 3A-7 Meet . Missed advancing to regionals by two spots . Was ranked fifth in final Hernando County Honor Roll . Jackson leaves as the school's fourth-fastest 5K runner of all-time.

QUOTES: "Had a great season. . Was incredibly upset at placing 17th - just missing a chance to advance to regionals. . I couldn't be more proud of him. . He was kind of a goofy freshman who matured each season afterward. . As a senior, it was as if everything clicked for him. . We're going to miss both James (Amodie) and Jai. He had a little lighter personality. . Those two set the proper example for the rest of the guys on the team."

- Springstead head coach Brandon Wright

Austin Mulyck

Nature Coast - Sophomore

COMMENTS: Two-year starter . First-time All-County selection . Was overshadowed as a freshman by four grizzly Shark distance veterans - Cody Van Natter, Kevin Ciccione, Stephen Murphy and Harkless . Competed in a school-record 11 meets . Finished in the top 10 twice (ninth at Hernando/Citrus Distance Classic and seventh in the 2A-6 Meet at Mount Dora Bible) . Notched personal-best time of 17:52.86 during the Hernando/Citrus Distance Classic . Seasonal highlight included competing in the 2A FHSAA Finals and placing 141st in 18:31.71 . Concluded the season ranked ninth overall in the circuit . Competed in nine meets in 2013 . Finished behind Harkless each time . Posted five top 10 finishes (second at NCT Invitational, third at Largo Invite, sixth at 2A-7, eighth at Citrus Invitational and tenth at the soggy 2A-II Meet) . Recorded his career-best time of 16:51.02 in the rain during the 2A-II Meet . Competed in his second straight FHSAA Finals placing 99th in 17:34.68 . Closed the season ranked second overall - only to Harkless.

QUOTES: "Because of James (Harkless), Austin never got a lot of recognition. . He's an incredibly hard-working runner. . He had kind of an up-and-down season, but it was nice to see him run so well in the regionals. . He's got asthma and has to deal with that every day. . He's a great kid, who'll be our captain next year. . He's someone we can depend on."

- Nature Coast head coach Eric Milholland

Charles Steinkamp

Hernando - Sophomore

COMMENTS: Two-year starter . First-time All-County selection . Never really forged an identity as a freshman in 2012, running behind Tyler Pantley . Pantley led the Leopards to the finish line in eight-of-nine meets . Steinkamp edged out Pantley at the tape of the Citrus Invitational . In eight meets, Steinkamp finished as high as 19th during the 2A-6 Meet . Steinkamp closed out the year ranked 17th behind an 18:59.56 clocking at Whispering Pines Park . This season, he and Pantley alternated as team leaders . Steinkamp paced the Purple and Gold to the finish line in four races (NCT Invitational, Citrus Invitational, Citrus/Hernando Distance Classic and 2A-II Meet) . Placed in the top 10 thrice (fifth at Hernando/Citrus Distance Classic, seventh at NCT Invite and tenth at the Citrus Invite) . Steinkamp climbed 11 spots to sixth in the final Hernando County Honor Roll behind a personal-best 17:46.47 clocking at Inverness.

QUOTES: "What's funny is Tyler (Pantley) kills Steinkamp during interval training during the week, but always keeps something in reserve for the races. . We have a solid 1-2 punch again for next year. . Those kids are the same age, but Charles is a little taller. . I expect him to run even more in the offseason. . He doesn't run track because that would take away from his high academics."

- Hernando head coach David Wilson

Coach of the Year

Eric Milholland

Nature Coast - 4th year

COMMENTS: Fifth Coach of the Year honor in six seasons . In 2011, Milholland led the Sharks to 11 top-10 finishes in 11 races . Sharks' worst finish was fifth at the Class 2A state finals in Dade City . Sharks won a school-record six meets (Zak Lukas, Bear Run, Citrus Invitational, Hernando/Citrus Invitational, 2A-6 and 2A-II) . Led NCT to first-ever district and region titles . Guided Sharks to best-ever state finish . In 2012, Milholland guided NCT to back-to-back-to-back county titles . Across 11 races, the Sharks finished in the top 10 a total of 10 times (Lecanto Invite, Zak Lukas, Mitchell Invite, Seffner Christian Invite, Wiregrass Ranch Invite, Mount Dora Bible Invite, Hernando/Citrus Distance Classic, 2A-6, 2A-II and 2A state finals) . NCT captured four meets (Zak Lukas, Mount Dora Bible Invite, Hernando/Citrus Distance Classic and 2A-6) . Milholland's teams set a school record with their third straight state appearance . Despite the loss of four starters, NCT barely skipped a beat in 2013 . The Sharks captured the six-team NCT Invitational and four-peated as Hernando County champions . In the 2A-7 Meet held at NCT, the Sharks walked away with a second-place trophy . In the 2A-II Meet the following week in the rain in Brooksville, the Sharks raised eyebrows placing third in the 15-team field . NCT was the only Hernando County squad represented in the 77th annual 2A FHSAA Finals in Leon County - placing 22nd out of 24 teams.

QUOTES: "I was really happy with our season. . Going in, I thought it we'd be in a rebuilding phase, but credit belongs to guys like Conner Schwefringhaus, Jacob Rockwell and Nick Conway for buying in. . We would not have fared as well without our leader James Harkless. He did an exceptional job of keeping everybody on the same page. This was a great group of boys."

- Nature Coast head coach Eric Milholland

"He lost an awful lot from the year before, but managed to put together another great team. . He has high expectations and holds the kids accountable."

- Springstead head coach Brandon Wright

"Eric is an all-round good guy. He loves what he's doing - it shows."

- Weeki Wachee head coach Bob Croyle

"Coach Milholland deserves this in every way; he's the whole package. . He'll help anyone out. . He knows he's got something good going with that boys program; you can definitely see his influence with his kids."

- Hernando head coach David Wilson

2013 Hernando Today All-County Boys Cross Country Selections

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO

NAME SCHOOL YR

Amodie, James Springstead 12th

Gray, Austin Central 12th

Harkless, James Nature Coast 12th

Jackson, Jai Springstead 12th

Mulyck, Austin Nature Coast 10th

Steinkamp, Charles Hernando 10th

Runner of the Year - James Harkless (Nature Coast).

Coach of the Year - Eric Milholland (Nature Coast).

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