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Here's the rundown on high schools

By TERRY JONES
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 17, 2002

Tuesday marked the beginning of the high school boys track and field season.

The Sickles Gryphons have strength in distance and field events. Wharton's Wildcats are weaker after losing a few top athletes, but still expect to make a strong showing this year. Chamberlain's strength is its sprinters. Alonso and Leto have new coaches and will be building what they hope will develop into winning programs.

SICKLES: Many of the team's starters are back for another season, so it shouldn't be difficult for Sickles to improve on last year's 3-13 record. The Gryphons could very well have one of the better boys teams in Hillsborough County this season.

"Our most consistent strength is with the distance events," coach John Diehl said.

That strength comes from senior Adam Sisler and underclassmen Dan Collins, Dan Buethe, Brock Galvin and Raphael Doromal. Diehl thinks the potent Gryphons distance crew is capable of winning most of the mile and 2-mile races.

The Gryphons also have power in the field events.

Doug Pokorny hoists the shotput beyond 50 feet, and teammates Matt Lindsay, Alan Madewell and Kamal Nesfield can throw 40 feet.

Steve Schweichler can fly 18 feet on the long jump. Tim Hannah can leap 17. Both also do the triple jump.

"We have a lot of great kids out this year, and right now they are just feeling their way around, getting ready for competition," Diehl said.

WHARTON: Wharton has 65 athletes challenging for a Wildcat starting job. The Wildcats, who lost several top athletes, placed fourth in the state last year. Several others are back this season and sure to make a strong showing. Jeff Johnson and Johnson Russell were regional finalists with the 330 hurdles last year.

Also returning are pole vaulters Brannon Herzing and Sam Sasslow.

Distance running scored big for the Wildcats last year and should add points again this season. Greg McCarthy, Bo Leslie and Zack Sanchez provide depth for the distance crew.

"We also have a new kid, Jovan Mitchell, who should be able to help us with the long jump and the 100 and 200 sprints, plus a relay," Wharton coach David Watson said. "We have several other younger athletes here and there that look good and could step up for us when the meets start. We are weaker than last year, but could come around by the end of the season."

CHAMBERLAIN: The Chiefs have a new coach with a new outlook for the seaon.

"I don't know what they did last year, but I feel we can do well this season," Harry Hubbard said. "There are a lot of great athletes here, and we saw that by the football team's performance. I'm working on getting as many of those guys out as possible. Right now, though, we have a good nucleus for a successful team."

Sprinters Oliver Agustino and Favian Lewisinson hope to compete beyond districts. Sean Dixon is a veteran at the 100 and one to watch in the 400 meters. The hurdles need some work, but Hubbard says Harold Locke is working hard at the event even though it is his first season.

Speedster Eddie Ivery Jr., who just signed a football scholarship with Georgia Tech, will run the 100 and 200.

Stormy Defreest will carry most of the distance running for the Chiefs.

ALONSO: Dean Robertson, a successful coach at Leto, is starting the new program at Alonso. Hehas more questions than answers at this point.

"John Forbes and Brian Gomez are a pair of sophomore sprinters working hard to help the team," Robertson said. "Forbes may move up to the 400 soon. Our field events are questionable, but we have about 40 kids out and actually two years to build without any seniors. We hope to get a couple of wins and maybe we will surprise someone before the season is over."

LETO: Hennie Schoeman is another first year coach. He will take the reins of the rich track tradition at Leto, which has won several regional championships.

"This is my first season with the Falcons and I am not looking back," Schoeman said. "We had 80 kids sign up for track, and about 45 seem to be commited. It will take me a couple of meets to see who really wants to work, and then I should also know where the work is needed."

GAITHER: Coach Tony Bellanca was unavailable.

* * *

REGULAR SEASON: Meets began Tuesday and conclude April 16. Teams may compete in a maximum of 15 meets.

CLASSIFICATIONS: Schools are divided by enrollment into four classifications, which range from the largest schools in 4A to the smallest in A.

POSTSEASON: District meets are April 18-26. The top four individuals or relay teams in each event will advance to the April 25 regional meet. From regionals, the top four individuals or relay teams will advance to the state finals in Coral Springs. The Class A and 2A finals are May 3 and 4. The Class 3A and 4A finals are May 10 and 11.

ADMISSION: Varies for each school during the regular season: district meet, $4; regional meet, $5; state finals, $6.

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