By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
ENGLEWOOD — No one on the Lemon Bay High School girls cross country team was surprised by Kelsi Ogilvie’s progress on the track this season.
Well, except Ogilvie.
The Lemon Bay senior, who finished third last year at the District 11-2A meet with a time of 19 minutes, 54.30 seconds, has taken off as the leader of the Manta Rays, who will run for a fifth-straight district title on Saturday. Ogilvie has dropped her time by nearly a minute this year, posting a personal-best time of 19:05.5 at the North Port Invite in September.
That time was a bit jaw-dropping, about 35 seconds faster than the week before. It was following her run at North Port that she realized she may not only win a district title this Saturday, but she could also stand on the podium at the state meet in a couple of weeks.
“I think it was a big shock because one meet I ran a 19:40 and then the next meet I ran a 19:05,” Ogilvie said. “I dropped almost 40 seconds out of nowhere and I’ve never done that before so that definitely boosted my confidence for the next couple of weeks knowing that I could actually do that.”
Ogilvie is part of a ‘three-headed monster’ on the track for the Manta Rays, along with junior Maddison Welch and senior Kristen Robinson. The three girls finished in the top-four last season at the district meet, with Welch taking home the district crown with a time of 19:49.60.
Welch’s personal-best is now a 19:28, and with Ogilvie now running close to 19 minutes even, she says she’ll be upset if Ogilvie doesn’t beat her Saturday morning and beyond.
“I think she’s going to kick booty at state,” Welch said. “I’m going to try to beat her, but she’s been training a lot harder than me so I really hope she’s able to beat me.”
Ogilvie spent a lot of time running over the summer training with her sister Sydni, who ran at Lemon Bay and now runs collegiately at Southeastern University. She says Sydni has been a big role model for her and seeing Sydni’s work ethic helped her drop her time this season.
As a result, Welch and Robinson say they’re not surprised at the least by Ogilvie’s time improvement.
Except for how fast it dropped.
“That first race I was kind of like ‘well, bye!’ But I knew she was doing a lot over the summer so I knew she was going to have a good year,” Welch said.
Robinson likes to tell Ogilvie ‘I told you so.’
“I told her she would. She wouldn’t believe me but I like to say I told you so,” said Robinson, whose best time this season is a 20:01. “I always told her she would do really good. I totally believed. I saw over summer that she was running a lot. I thought she’d do really well this year.”
Ogilvie hopes to get her time under 19 minutes, which would break the school record. She says she never thought that would have been possible but it’s now her ultimate goal.
But before she achieves that goal she’s got another to reach — another district title for the Manta Rays in her senior season. And the meet just happens to be on Lemon Bay’s home course, which the girls say should be a huge advantage.
They expect to finish 1-2-3 in the race.
“I think the biggest thing it’s on our home course so we’re expecting a lot of people out here and we’ve been training all year for districts, regionals and states,” Ogilvie said. “This is where it starts to kick in and we really have to come together and actually have to go fast and lead the pack.”
That shouldn’t be a problem for this trio, which will most likely be leading every team’s pack come Saturday morning.