© St. Petersburg Times, published April 7, 2002
ST. PETERSBURG -- Here is how well things aligned for Keswick Christian to win the boys and girls titles at the Mustang Invitational on Saturday:
Tampa Baptist's Garrett Johnson, who holds the state's best marks in the discus and shot put, decided to go to Alabama to compete in the Mobile Meet of Champions rather than attend Saturday's meet at Northside Christian.
Admiral Farragut Academy's boys team, which won district and regional titles last season, didn't show up because the school is on spring break.
Northside Christian's Blair Newcombe, a state champion in the pole vault, was out with a shoulder injury.
The Mustangs, along with Indian Rocks Christian and Shorecrest, also were without several athletes who were either taking the ACT exam or competing in a cheerleading competition.
With their path cleared, the Crusaders had no problem with the competition -- or lack thereof. Keswick's boys scored 133 to beat the runner-up Chargers (103 1/2). The Crusaders also beat Shorecrest for the girls title, 113 1/2-85.
"Hey, we'll take both (titles)," Keswick coach Lance Lipham said. "We saw that there were some no-shows, but our teams worked hard during their spring break last week. This was a nice reward."
Lipham can sympathize with his private school counterparts about missing star athletes in big meets. That's what Lipham has had to deal with all season after the graduation of state champions Reed Rudge and Christa Benton.
But Lipham makes no apologies for pulling off the double victory Saturday.
Keswick's depth, especially in the field events, was too strong in the boys and girls fields and would have been hard to beat no matter who showed up.
Chad Schooley won the 100 meters and high jump, Kirk Hoffmann won the shot put and discus, and Tanner Tidwell won the 1,600 to lead the Crusaders. Keswick also won the 4x100 relay.
Northside Christian's Doug Hunter was the only boys athlete to win three events -- the triple jump and the 100 and 300 hurdles. But his performance wasn't enough to compensate for the Crusaders' multitude of place-winners in the field events.
Keswick's boys had three of the top five finishers in the shot put and discus, and two of the top three in the triple jump. In all, the Crusaders scored 74 of their 133 points in field events.
The Keswick girls were just as dominant. Kacie Carl won the shot put, the only Crusader to win an event. But the team had three of the top four place-winners in the shot put and two of the top five in the discus and high jump.
Palm Harbor University's Latecia Hardy was the big winner on the girls side, taking first in four events -- the long jump, triple jump, 100 and 300 hurdles.
Indian Rocks Christian's Chrissy Carpenter was the only other girl to win more than one event, taking first in the 800 and 1,600.