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Wharton crashes the party

Late additions, the Wildcat girls team runs off with the Gator Invitational title.

By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 8, 2002


SHADY HILLS -- Turns out, all the Wharton girls had to do to win Saturday's sixth annual Gator Invitational was show up.

That's just what the Wildcats did at Crews Lake Park in Pasco County. The team was a late entrant but a dominant one, scoring 101 points and placing four girls in the top 34 to best runner-up Mitchell by four points.

Tamp Bay Tech's Mayda Cosme had the best finish of Hillsborough County runners, taking seventh place with a time of 20 minutes, 40 seconds.

Wharton's Nicole Stanley led the Wildcats, finishing ninth in 20:56. Teammates Erica Garrish finished 12th (21:15), Courtney Clearwaters 29th (22:26), Maria Cevallos 30th (22:27) and Victoria Michelotti 34th (22:47).

Not bad for a team of freshmen and sophomores, one that was left looking for a meet after Thursday night's Central Hillsborough Invitational was rained out.

"It's a surprise because we ran fairly well," Wharton coach Wes Newton said. "The only time we've had better times was at the regional meet last year. This is a really young team, but we've worked hard all summer.

"This is the first time we raced. We had no idea we could do this well."

Tampa Bay Tech finished seventh with 156 points. Latoya Williams was 22nd (21:53) and Yvonne Perez 27th (22:18). Mitchell's Nicole Guercio won the girls race in 19:38.

On the boys side, Mitchell, the No. 4 ranked team in Class 3A by flrunners.com, ran away with the title, scoring 42 to beat runner-up Largo by 20.

The Wharton boys finished fourth, led by Jose Rodriguez, who placed 15th (16:56). Zach Sanchez finished 16th (17:00) and Ryan Kniery 18th (17:06) in a tight pack of Wildcats.

Tampa Bay Tech was 11th, led by Matt Torrens (51st, 19:07), Mark Huyett (52md, 19:16) and Steve Phan (53rd, 19:22).

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