LAKEWOOD RANCH -- In the last decade or so, Bayshore High School has had students apply and be accepted on their strengths for Take Stock in Children college scholarships.
But never were the Bruins able to win a "free" Take Stock scholarship for an anonymous student by the sheer number of registrations at the annual Take Stock 10K, 5K and Fun Run annual races, said Laura Roberts, Bayshore's Take Stock in Children coordinator.
That all changed Sunday when more than 300 Bayshore High students registered for the annual races on Main Street in Lakewood Ranch.
"I am so excited about Bayshore High this year," said Diana Dill, who is nearing her 10-year anniversary as the executive director of Take Stock in Children, which has provided educational opportunities for nearly 500 children. "The Bruins are coming out in full force. They had more than 300 runners signed up. It's a true sign of them wanting to be a part of our program and wanting scholarships for their children."
In three school buses that left the school around 6 a.m. Sunday, Bayshore brought its drum line, cheerleaders, mascot and dance team to encourage the racers, Dill said.
The 300 Bruins lifted the races to 2,405 entries this year, an all-time record, said Bethany Lynch, in her fifth year as Take Stock race director.
"We started publicizing to take part in this," said Bayshore Principal David Underhill. "Take Stock in Children in a great organization that helps kids, and if we have the opportunity to help kids, we want to."
Roberts had to give direction to an army of blues-shirted students at the races.
"We've been doing this for years but this year was very exciting because we were able to get buses and bring the students out," Roberts said.
Registering for the races costs money, and Bayshore got financial help from Bradenton's Firkins Automotive to register more students than ever before, Roberts said.
Last year, Bayshore had roughly 100 students sign up for the races.
Bayshore provided the runners at the starting line one of the most thrilling moments of the day when the Honey Bears dance team got in total synch with the drum line, playing cadences led by section leader Deon Sands, 19, along with Luis Bigio, Gustavo Herrera, Elizabeth Moore and Ricardo Hernandez.
Lentz S.R. Laurent, a Lakewood Ranch High senior and the school's highly popular Mustang mascot, actually ran the 5K race wearing the heavy Mustang head and finished the 5K in 29 minutes, 20 seconds.
Matthew Connor of Parrish won the 10K in 37 minutes, 48 seconds.
Arthur Richardson of Bradenton won the 5K in 17.32.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.