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Wharton upsets rivals to capture relay prize

Seniors rose to the occasion to take the Nash-Higgins Relays.

By TERRY JONES
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 15, 2002


PEBBLE CREEK -- Riding the strength and speed of top athlete Kendra Smith, the Wharton girls upset both Plant and Riverview to capture the Nash-Higgins Relays last weekend. The Wildcats took four firsts, a pair of seconds, one third, placed in the top eight in all 14 events; they scored 88 points for the championship. Meet favorites Plant and Riverview were left with only enough room to scrap for second.

The Panthers took second with 72 points and the Sharks were a close third with 70.

Smith, the Female Performer of the Meet, won the triple and high jumps, and was on two winning relay teams. She also finished second in the long jump.

"Kendra just did a great job for us all day," Wharton girls coach Wes Newton said. "All our girls had super meets to be able to place in all 14 events. With so many youngsters on our team, we knew the seniors would have to perform exceptionally well for us to win the Nash-Higgins. They did and we just had a great day."

Smith, who logged the longest triple jump of the meet, was joined in the first-place team by Kristen Fleming and Deseree Wright.

Candice Dupree replaced Wright in the trio to win the high jump event.

In both the 4x330- and 4x100-meter shuttle hurdles, Smith helped capture the gold. Smith, Natalie Moser, Ashley Fielder and Carmon Mays formed the winning quartet on the 4x330, and Victoria Michelotti replaced Mays to help win the 4x100.

"We have won the shuttle hurdles the past four years, in both the Nash-Higgins and Manuel Griffin meets," Newton said. "It seems to be something our girls enjoy."

Erika Landers, Fielder and Smith combined for a second-place finish in the long jump. Alekesha Philyor, Derika Folks and Dupree took silver with the discus throw.

Jasmine Wynn joined Folks and Dupree for a third-place finish on the shot put.

Although the Wildcats team is made up mostly of freshmen and sophomores, it has eight seniors who are performing exceptionally well so far this season.

Ansley Olinger, Brittany Olinger, Stephanee Dellaportas, Smith, Dupree, Landers, Fielder and Fleming are the senior members of the team.

"One thing consistent about all our girls, because they work long, hard hours in practice, the longer the meet and hotter the weather, the better they perform," Newton said.

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