Friday, Jul 11, 2014

2013 Hernando Today All-County Girls Cross Country Team


Runner of the Year

Amber Philpott

Springstead - Sophomore

COMMENTS: Just missed reaching states in the two-mile in track and field last spring . First-year cross country letterman . Unanimous first-time All-County selection and Runner of the Year . In 2013, Philpott competed in a team-high eight 5Ks . She set several Hernando County records . She captured five 3.1-mile races (NCT Invitational; Citrus Invite; Hernando/Citrus Distance Classic at McKethan Lake; Class 3A, District 7 at McKethan and 3A-Region II at Orlando-Lake Nona) . In the process, she captured four meets in a row . Previous record was back-to-back wins by Hernando's Anna Gray in 2006 . She finished in the top 10 a county-best eight times in eight meets - the county record is nine times in nine meets by Hernando's Leela Hadsock in 2004 . Was Hernando County's first state placer (placed ninth out of 188 of the state's elite during the rugged 3A Meet at Tallahassee-Apalachee Regional Park) since Hadsock in 2004 . Philpott not only set the Springstead 5K school record, but the county record behind a 18:31.41 during the 3A-7 Meet . Philpott re-set the county mark three times this season, eclipsing Hadsock's old mark of 19:17.00 in 2004 . Of the 806 runners Philpott competed against this season, she defeated 794 (or 98.5 percent) . Over the past 12 seasons (or since the sport adopted the 5K distance), of the 246 female thinclads from Hernando County who have competed in at least one 5K race, Philpott ranks No. 1 entering next season.

QUOTES: "Amber had a terrific first year of cross country. . She put up the kind of numbers we've never seen before. . What I like most? There aren't many runners who outwork her. She definitely puts in the mileage. . One of things we did late in the season was to scale back her mileage to keep her legs fresher. She couldn't keep putting in 60 miles a week without breaking down. . As far as being a competitor, she's small size-wise, but she's mentally tough. . She's a great kid who is very determined. . In practice, we had nobody who could run with her. . I thought her defining moment was placing in the top 10 and medaling at states. That field was loaded and she caught two kids down the stretch to place."

- Springstead head coach Joel Myers

"She started in the front of the pack from the get-go. . She was always up front. . There was nobody around here who could keep up with her. . I was amazed on how well she reacted when she was 'accidentally tripped' during the district meet. . She was bleeding from both elbows and a lot of kids would have quit in that situation. But give credit to Amber, she composed herself and ran hot. . Probably what I liked most is how she always wants to do more. . She's a great role model for our county and our sport."

- Nature Coast head coach Eric Milholland

"First and foremost was her consistency. . Though Nature Coast was the county's best team, she outpaced every one of their girls. . She had to be the unanimous choice - picking Amber was a no-brainer. . Probably what I like most is she absorbed all the success with grace and humbleness."

- Hernando head coach David Wilson

"What a breakout season. She looked like she was in midseason form in the first meet. . As a coach what impressed me was how she got better and better when it counts the most. . She put the county on the map. . She runs by herself most of the time - that's says so much about her and how much guts she has."

- Weeki Wachee head coach Patrick Skipper

"Amber is an outstanding athlete and showed great sportsmanship. She's a tremendous role model for our county."

- Central head coach Jen Merschbach

Crystal Burchhardt

Nature Coast - Senior

COMMENTS: Repeat All-County selection . Four-year letterman . Multi-sport athlete, who also competes on the swim team . Competed in seven races as a freshman in 2010 . Was the first Lady Shark to the finish line thrice . Ranked fourth in the final Hernando County Honor Roll (21:19.42) . Missed the majority of her sophomore campaign in 2011 due to injuries . Was limited to two races . Dipped to 13th in the final Honor Roll (22:52.00) . Enjoyed a mostly injury-free, breakout season in 2012 . Competed a personal-best nine races . Led the Lady Sharks to the finish line once (Wiregrass Ranch) . Enjoyed two top 10 finishes (eighth at Wiregrass Ranch and fifth in the 2A-6 Meet at Mount Dora Bible) . Recorded the second-fastest 5K time in 20:28.60 at Wiregrass Ranch . In 2013, Burchhardt competed in seven races and never led the Lady Sharks to the finish line . Finished in the top 10 twice (seventh at Citrus Invitational at Whispering Pines and sixth during the Hernando/Citrus Classic at McKethan Lake) . In her 25th and final varsity race, Burchhardt turned in a seasonal-best 21:12.90 at the 40th annual FHSAA Finals at Tallahassee's Apalachee Regional Park . The state meet was Burchhardt's second . Burchhardt finished her prep career ranked second all-time, out of 63 runners, at NCT in 20:28.60 . She finished ranked ninth fastest all-time in Hernando County.

QUOTES: "She had some injuries, but her back was better for states. . She posted her best time this year at states. . She came in very focused and hungry. . She's the type of athlete that is always on the go. . On what we'll miss the most? All the surprises she creates when she competes."

- Nature Coast head coach Eric Milholland

Alexa Lacy

Nature Coast - Sophomore

COMMENTS: Repeat All-County selection . Had a huge impact as a first-year thinclad . Competed in nine races . Led the Lady Sharks to the finish line seven times (Lukas Invitational, Mitchell Invitational, Pre-State, Mount Dora Bible Invitational, Hernando/Citrus Distance Classic, 2A-II at Lake Nona and 2A states at Tallahassee) . Notched a team-best five top-10 finishes (sixth at Lukas, ninth at Wiregrass Ranch, fifth at Hernando/Citrus Distance Classic, fourth at 2A-6 and fifth in 2A-II) . Posted the county's third-fastest time this season (20:29.30) at Wiregrass Ranch . Competed in a team-high nine 5Ks in 2013 . Finished in the top 10 five times: runner-up at NCT Invite, 10th at Largo Invite, fifth at Citrus Invitational, fourth at the Hernando/Citrus Classic and third at the 2A-7 Meet at NCT . Paced the Lady Sharks to the finish line four times . Enters next season ranked third all-time at NCT, only 2.5 seconds behind school-record holder Alyssa Deligio's 20:27.00 . Is one of six Lady Sharks to compete at states in back-to-back seasons.

QUOTES: "Had a bit of a tough year. . Alexa wanted to run in the 19s and set records this year. . She tried, but did an excellent job of hanging in there. . The team will center around her next year. . She'll focus on getting even faster and maintaining her endurance."

- Nature Coast head coach Eric Milholland

Alyssa Deligio

Nature Coast - Senior

COMMENTS: Repeat All-County selection . Third-year runner . In 2011, she was an average runner competing in seven races . Concluded her first season ranked 13th overall (23:22.80) . In 2012, enjoyed a breakout season . Competed in a personal-best 10 meets . Led the Lady Sharks to the finish line three times (Lecanto Invitational, Seffner Christian Invitatonal and 2A-6) . Posted five top-10 finishes (tenth at Lukas and Wiregrass Ranch, ninth at Seffner, seventh in 2A-II and third at 2A-6) . Ranked fifth in county with the fastest time (20:50.10) at 2A-II . In 2013, Deligio competed in a team-best nine 5Ks . Paced the Lady Sharks to the finish line a team-best five times . Finished in the top 10 a team-best five times (runner-up at 2A-7 at NCT, third at NCT Invite, fourth at Citrus Invitational, fifth at Hernando/Citrus Classic and sixth in 2A-II Meet at NCT) . Set NCT school record with a 20:27.00 at 2A-II Meet, eclipsing Burchhardt's 2012 mark . Reached states twice . Going back to the sport's 3.1-mile inception 12 years ago, Deligio ranks eighth all-time in county history.

QUOTES: "Came in a lot hungrier this season. . Injuries have hampered her in the past. . She and Alexa (Lacy) alternated being in the front all season long. . She was our team MVP. . It was nice to see her go out with the school record at regionals. . What I'll miss most? All the quirky questions she'd ask. She has a quirky sense of humor."

- Nature Coast head coach Eric Milholland

Joy Jackson

Springstead - Sophomore

COMMENTS: First-year letterman . First-time All-County selection . Competed in a team-high eight races . Finished in the top 10 once placing eighth at NCT Invite . Was the Lady Eagles' most consistent performer after Philpott and Tiana Newton . Notched personal-best time of 21:44.01 during the Hernando/Citrus Classic at McKethan Lake . Finished ranked sixth in the final Hernando County Honor Roll.

QUOTES: "She ran the mile and two-mile for us in the spring. . As a (cross country) rookie, she got better with every race. . Started gaining confidence as the season closed. . Someone to definitely look out for next year. . How committed was she? During her vacation, she ran on her own every day. . For a first-year runner, she had an outstanding season."

- Springstead head coach Joel Myers

Tiana Newton

Springstead - Junior

COMMENTS: Three-year starter . Three-time All-County selection . Two-time Runner of the Year in 2011-12 . In 2011, missed three meets due to an injury and family member's illness in Virginia . Was the county's lone representative in the rugged 3A-II Meet at Lecanto . Led Hernando County champion Lady Eagles to the finish line in 5-of-6 races . Compiled three top-10 finishes (fourth at Hernando/Citrus Distance Classic, tenth at Lecanto Invitational and 3A-6 Meet) . Posted the county's fastest 5K time at district (20:25.59) and regional (21:08.80) levels . In 2012, Newton paced the Lady Eagles to the finish line eight times in eight races . She recorded four top-10 finishes (ninth at Lecanto Invitational and Mitchell Invitational, sixth at Wiregrass Ranch and fifth at Lukas) . Severely injured her right ankle prior to the Hernando/Citrus Distance Classic . Before that injury, 25 NCT runners competed against Newton across four different meets - not one was able to beat her to the finish line . Competing with one good leg, Newton concluded the season on a down note, placing 12th at the Hernando/Citrus Distance Classic followed by a 19th-place finish in the 3A-6 Meet at Crews Lake . Of the county's 224 individual races, Newton established the county's fastest time at Wiregrass Ranch (20:22.64) . In 2013, Newton took a backseat - as did everyone else - to Philpott's emergence . Newton competed in six meets and placed twice in the top 10 (fourth at NCT Invite, 10th at Citrus Invitational) . Her fastest time this year (21:13.28 at 3A-7 Meet) did not duplicate her career best . Teamed with Philpott, SHS has a formidable 1-2 punch going forward . Needs 12 races in her senior year to eclipse Kailey Genrich's school-record 31 5Ks . Ranks fifth all-time at SHS and seventh all-time in county for the fastest 3.1-mile time.

QUOTES: "She didn't have a great year, but she had a solid year. Her goal was to get into the 19s. . She was nothing but supportive toward Amber (Philpott). . As the season progressed she began accelerating. . This was by far her healthiest season. . Her future looks real bright."

- Springstead head coach Joel Myers

Coach of the Year

Eric Milholland

Nature Coast - Second Year

COMMENTS: Repeat selection . Took a Nature Coast team with essentially the same cast of characters from the year before, along with two talented freshmen, to new heights in 2012 . NCT won its first Hernando County title since 2007 . Milholland guided the Lady Sharks to their first-ever district title in a decade of competition . No Hernando County girls team had captured a district title in 13 years - or since Lisa Bilodeau's 2000 Central High squad . NCT also claimed its first regional title in the sport during the 2A-II Meet . No Lady Shark cross country team had ever been to states before Milholland's squad placed 13th - out of 24 teams . NCT walked away with three championship trophies (Lecanto Invite, 2A-6 and 2A-II) . In Year 2, Milholland guided the Lady Sharks to a school-record four first-place trophies (Shark Invitational, Citrus Invite at Whispering Pines Park in Inverness, Hernando/Citrus Distance Classic and 2A-7 Meet) . In the process, the Lady Sharks earned their second straight Hernando County championship and second straight district title .Though NCT did not repeat as regional champion, the Lady Sharks reached states for a school-record second time, placing 14th in the 24-team field . No other Hernando County female team was represented in the FHSAA Finals . At the conclusion of the season, Milholland announced that he will not be returning next year to lead the Lady Sharks, but will continue to concentrate on building the boys program.

QUOTES: "Eric has shown great dedication to the sport. He has tremendous experience and shows great heart and patience with his runners."

- Central head coach Jen Merschbach

"Coach Milholland deserves credit. They won the county again and made it to states. They had a good crew of kids. . They got to where they should have been. . Give Eric credit, with everything that happened with that group, he stuck to his guns."

- Springstead head coach Joel Myers

"His team beat everyone around here. His team was the only one to reach states - that says a lot about Coach Milholland. The big thing was he got his girls ready to go every weekend. . He's taken over the role that Ernie Chatman had as the sport's ambassador here in Hernando County."

- Weeki Wachee head coach Patrick Skipper

"There was some friction with that team early in the season, but he kept with it. He definitely had the horses; they were probably six-deep.

- Hernando head coach David Wilson

2013 Hernando Today All-County Girls Cross Country Team

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO


Burchhardt, Crystal NCT 12th

Deligio, Alyssa NCT 12th

Jackson, Joy SPG 10th

Lacy, Alexa NCT 10th

Newton, Tiana SPG 11th

Philpott, Amber SPG 10th

Runner of the Year - Amber Philpott (Springstead).

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

* Denotes repeat selection


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