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Mustangs, Knights overcome course

A confusing layout and slow conditions make it a rough run for boys, girls teams.

By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 15, 2002

A confusing layout and slow conditions make it a rough run for boys, girls teams.

NEW PORT RICHEY -- Those who ran Saturday's 16th annual Ridgewood Invitational are the better for it.

But then again, they didn't have a choice.

It was a difficult 3.1-mile course for the seven county teams that ran around Ridgewood High and Marchman Technical Education Center. The terrain alternated between pavement and woods, with plenty of turns underneath damp, overcast skies. The result: slow times and confusion in the girls race caused by the course layout. But that didn't stop the Mitchell boys and River Ridge girls from asserting themselves at the top.

Mitchell star Jeff Masterson won the boys division in 16 minutes, 12 seconds. He bested rival Kurt Able of Wesley Chapel by 36 seconds to lead the Mustangs to a winning score of 26. Runner-up Wesley Chapel had 44.

The girls title went to River Ridge's Danielle Coyle, who won in 21:02 to edge runner-up Stephanie Amerman of Wesley Chapel by two seconds. The teams finished 1-2 in the title chase as well. The Royal Knights scored 27 and the Wildcats 53.

Coyle, Amerman and River Ridge's Samantha Jacobsen, who was third (21:59), ran an extra 200 to 300 meters after heading the wrong way early in their race.

"It was a confusing course," Royal Knights coach Erik Hermansen said. "The girls really showed a lot of character today. They got lost a couple of times today but they showed what's inside of them and they finished strong. And that's what I expect of them, to finish strong in every race.

"They really grew up today. They didn't have a choice. They had to deal with it right then and there and overcome it and they overcame it great."

Mustangs coach Bill Napolitano, whose undefeated boys team is ranked No. 4 in Class 3A by, said he expected better.

"I think we did okay, but I don't think it was a great meet for us either," he said. "We should have run better. We wanted to solidify our No. 5 spot and that didn't happen. We worked hard all week, we talked about consistency, and today as a team we didn't show a lot of consistency.

"It was a slow course with a lot of turns, but still, it builds a little character. It brings us back down to earth a little bit as far as times are concerned. We just have to get focused and put this behind us and get back on track because we have flrunners next week."

Mitchell will run in the elite prep division, the race of champions category, in the third annual flrunners Invitational at Polk Community College in Winter Haven next weekend.

Saturday, the Mustangs' Danny Sheehan finished third (16:57), followed by John Tuccio (17:27) in fifth, Brandon Steiner (18:17) in eighth and Rob Clendening (18:25) in ninth.

Angel Jacks finished fifth for River Ridge (22:31), Corissa DeMartino was sixth (22:31), Amber DeFranco (24:01) was 12th, Michelle Villano (24:59) 13th and Kelly Tehan (25:18) took 14th.

Also finishing in the top spots for the boys was Wesley Chapel's David Forry in fourth (17:20), Zephyrhills' Jose Espinoza in sixth (17:35), River Ridge's Danny Ayers was seventh (18:09) and Wesley Chapel's Stephen Halozyn was 10th (18:27).

Rounding out the top girls finishers was Wesley Chapel's Lindsay Lucado in fourth (22:30), seventh-place Sarah Penokie of Ridgewood (22:55), Zephyrhills' Chasity Morris in eighth place (23:04) and Christina Coston in ninth (23:04), and Hudson's Meighan O'Conner in 10th place (23:50).

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