The FHSAA 4A boys graduated six out of the top 10 from the 2017 race. Among the recent graduates are Deshay Fernandes, Austin Redondo, Nicholas Rischar, and Noah Quintana.
Ben Hartvigsen, the 2017 state champion, will return for his senior year at Sarasota high school. Hartvigsen had a consistent track season across all distances running 9:15 in the 3200m, 4:22 in the 1600m, and 1:59 in the 800m, proving he is a strong contender coming into the 2018 season.
There are six other athletes that will join Hartvigsen with PRs in the 5k sub 16 minutes. Isaias de la Puente, a senior from Forest Hill HS, and Mamush and Kayamo Galloway, juniors from Oviedo HS, will join Hartvigsen at the top.
Keep an eye out for Nehemiah Rivers, a senior from Wharton HS. Rivers has a 5k PR of 15:53 and he had a heck of a track season going 9:25 in the 3200m, 4:25 in the 1600m, and 1:58 for the 800m. With consistent times like these Rivers will round out the top 5 individuals in the preseason rankings.
If the race comes down to the last 300m, you won't want Lakewood Ranch HS senior, Jonathan Reid, right behind you. Reid had a stellar track season going 1:55 in the 800m and 4:18 in the 1600m. With his 15:58 5k PR, Reid will be a tough competitor to beat.
George M. Steinbrenner HS is back for redemption this year for the team title. Finishing second place last year will fuel this year's fight for the championship, and with their top 5 sub 17 minutes, the group will be a strong force in the classification. Steinbrenner is led by Davis Bly, Nick Sowell, and Zach Harrigan.
Watch for Windermere High School and Sarasota HS. Onix Ortiz leads Windermere with a 16:05 5k PR. If they can get their fourth and fifth athletes to the sub 17 minute barrier, they could give Steinbrenner a fight. Hartvigsen leads Sarasota HS along with teammates Shane Kilduff and Ryan Guendjoian.
In the 2018 cross country season we will see the rankings change and shift across all classifications -- anything can happen. There is one day till the 2018 cross country season starts, it's go time.