Michael Phillips, the 2017 3A state champion, is among several recent graduates to leave the classification. With a majority of the classification graduated, there is an open field when it comes to the 2018 returners.
At the top of the preseason rankings is Aidan O'Gorman out of New Smyrna Beach HS. With a 5k PR of 15:50 and a 3200m of 9:36, O'Gorman is one to watch this season. Coming off a great track season, there are two athletes that should challenge O'Gorman at the top.
Hugh Brittenham, a senior from Estero HS, has a PR in the 5k of 16:09. This past track season he dominated the 1600m racing a 4:09 to be the top returner of the 3A field. Along with his new 1600m PR, Brittenham raced a 1:51 800 at FSU Relays earlier this year. Brittenham has some of the fastest middle distance speed amongst this group.
Joining O'Gorman and Brittenham is Jake Turner, a Junior from Armwood HS. Turner had an exceptional track season, gaining new PRs of 9:27 in the 3200m and 4:21 in the 1600m. With the consistent improvement that Turner has made this past track season, we can plan to see him challenge and add depth to the top 5 in the classification.
It's no secret that Belen Jesuit Preparatory School is the top team in the preseason rankings. Belen is led by seniors, Lucas De La Hoz and Sebastian Roa. With 7 athletes capable of the sub 17 min 5k barrier, Belen, on paper, has depth unlike any other team in the classification. Who will challenge them this year?
Keep an eye out for Creekside HS. Matthew Ortiz leads Creekside with a 5k PR of 16:18. Joining Ortiz are his teammates Ian Smith and Preston Rose, who have both run under 17 minutes. If Creekside can get it's fourth and fifth runners under 17 minutes, they could become a strong challenger to Belen for the top team in 3A.