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Wharton, Gaither athletes grab state titles

Wharton's Kendra Smith won the triple jump title, while Gaither's Dara Altman captured the pole vault title.

By ROD GIPSON
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 19, 2002


TAMPA -- Local athletes earned two state titles and came close to another during the Class 4A state track and field meet May 11 in Coral Springs. Wharton, Gaither and Leto participated in the events in both boys and girls competition.

The Wharton girls had the best overall finish, placing 13th among the more than 30 schools in competition. Gaither was right behind at 14th, while the Leto girls placed 35th. On the boys side, Leto placed 31st while Wharton was 34th.

Senior triple jumper Kendra Smith ended her career at Wharton in style, winning the state title. Smith's leap of 39 feet, 11 inches gave her a comfortable margin of victory. Gaither's Dara Altman also captured a state crown, winning the pole vault title for the second consecutive season. Altman, who suffered a loss in regional competition but still qualified for the state meet, bounced back strong -- winning the vault title by clearing 11 feet, 6 inches. Wharton's Natalie Moser was fourth with a 10-feet, 6-inch vault.

In boy's competition, Leto junior Coe Fedorenko provided drama in the 3,200-meter run with a surprising effort. Fedorenko placed second in the event with a time of 9 minutes, 40 seconds. And Wharton senior sprinter Laphonso Ray ran well, finishing fifth in the 100-meter run at 10.96 seconds and seventh in the 200-meter run (22.33 seconds).

SOFTBALL: Chamberlain catcher Krista Jessup stole home in the seventh inning to score the game's only run and lead the West to a victory against the East in the Hillsborough County All-Star Game Tuesday in Plant City.

Jessup, who walked to get on base, moved to second on a sacrifice and then reached third on a ground out before stealing home in the 1-0 win. Jessup was joined on the West team by Chamberlain teammate Krista Holle and Sickles players Tiffany Stewart, Laura Templeton and Tiffany Clark. Sickles' coach Tammy Overcash was one of the West squad's coaches.

ALUMNI: Former Wharton standout Billy Wimberly and ex-Gaither star Eric Thompson have had an immediate impact as freshmen for the University of Tampa baseball team. Wimberly, a third baseman, hit a team best .404 while starting all 52 regular season games. His batting average makes him the first freshman to lead the team in hitting in 11 years. And Thompson, a catcher in high school, made a smooth transition to first base. He started 51 games, led the Spartans in RBIs with 44 and made just three errors in the field. Wimberly and Thompson are in postseason action this weekend as UT hosts the NCAA Division II South Region tournament.

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