After qualifying for the state cross country finals as a junior, Sebring's Taylor Tubbs was determined to improve on her 61st-place finish.
Tubbs dedicated herself even more during grueling summer workouts. The Blue Streak athlete got stronger as the season progressed and peaked at the right time.
At the Class 3A-District 7 meet, Tubbs helped the Sebring girls finish fourth to qualify for regionals with a first-place time of 19:21.55. She placed second at the Class 3A-Region 2 meet with a time of 18:41.40, and the Blue Streak senior capped her remarkable high school career with a seventh-place finish at the state finals with a personal-best time of 18:34.61.
"Taylor really stepped it up a notch in her summer training," said Sebring girls cross country coach Krista Schult. "We worked out during the summer before, but Taylor really dedicated herself and was in great shape for the season.
"She was a team leader, is very competitive and has a great work ethic."
For her many accomplishments, Tubbs has been selected, for the fourth consecutive year, as the 2012 Highlands Today All-Highlands Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.
"I'm very proud of what I've done the last four years," said Tubbs. "To run my best time at the state meet was incredible. "I ran 20 miles a week as a freshman and I'm running 40 miles a week now and I'm a lot stronger."
Tubbs will continue her athletic career when she runs cross country, indoor track and outdoor track at the University of Florida in the fall.
"I like track more than cross country, but I'm looking forward to doing both at the University of Florida," she said. "I've got a lot of friends in Gainesville and that makes it nice and it's only three hours away from Sebring.
"I enjoyed high school, but I'm really excited to move on to the next chapter of my life."
Sarah Becerra, freshman, Avon Park: Becerra made an instant impact in her first year of cross country by lowering her times during the season. She had a personal-best time of 22:39.
"Sarah has a lot of potential if she continues to work hard," said Avon Park girls cross country coach Pakitta Wells-Felix.
Quiahja Williams, freshman, Lake Placid: Williams overcame knee issues to post a best time of 23:43 in her first year of running for the Green Dragons.
"Quiahja is an amazing girl and runs like a rocket," said Lake Placid cross country coach Scott Morgan. "She came out of nowhere, was running in front most of the time and will be a strong runner for us next year."
Hannah Schroeder, senior, Sebring: Schroeder was a key component to the Blue Streaks success in her three years of running. Schroeder ran in the low 20s most of the season and combined with Tubbs to help Sebring qualify for the regionals. Schroeder will run for Bryan College in the fall.
"Hannah was very coachable and would do anything we asked," Schult said. "She always gave a great effort and will be missed."
Jennifer Patino, junior, Avon Park: Patino came back from an injury to run a best time of 23:59 for the Red Devils.
"Jennifer did a great job and was a consistent runner for us," Wells-Felix said.
Elizabeth Leon, senior, Lake Placid: In her only year of cross country, Leon was able to lower her time down to the 26-minute mark to help the Green Dragons.
"Elizabeth is a good athlete with a lot of ability," Morgan said. "She had a lot of determination and was a pleasure to coach."
Ashley Castelli, sophomore, Sebring: In her first year of cross country, Castelli was very consistent and ran a 22:50 at the regional meet.
"Ashley improved during the season and ran her best at regionals," Schult said. "She has a bright future in the sport."
Erica Rodriguez, junior, Avon Park: Rodriguez had a best time of 26:29 for the Red Devils during the season.
"Erica had a solid season for us," Wells-Felix said.
Nicole Moore, freshman, Lake Placid: Moore showed great promise in her first year by running in the low 25s for the Green Dragons.
"Nicole has a lot of natural ability," Morgan said. "She teamed up with Quiahja to give us a pair of solid runners at the front."
Erin Lamb, junior, Sebring: In her first year of cross country, Lamb ran in the 24 to 25 minute range for the Blue Streaks.
Maria Rojas, sophomore, Avon Park: Rojas showed steady improvement and had a best time of 25:27 in her first season of running for the Red Devils.
Katherine Stoll, sophomore, Sebring: Stoll was around the 24 and 25 minute mark and has a solid future for the Blue Streaks.
Tamara Stokes, junior, Avon Park: Stokes came in with a best time of 33:13 this season for the Red Devils.
Laura Eshelman, sophomore, Sebring: Eshelman was another consistent runner that was around the 25 minute mark for the Blue Streaks.
Cassandra Marentes, senior, Sebring: Marentis ran for the Blue Streaks for three years and came in around the 25 minute mark.
"Cassandra worked so hard to help us get to regionals," Schult said.
Coach of the Year:
For guiding the Blue Streaks to a fourth-place finish at districts to qualify for regionals, Sebring's Krista Schult has been selected as the Highlands Today All-Highlands Volleyball Coach of the Year.