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Sickles girls, King boys finish on top

By TERRY JONES
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 22, 2002

BRANDON -- With a meet-low 43, the Sickles girls won the Don Bishop Invitational Saturday and even helped the Gryphons boys place seventh.

Sickles had four girls finish in the top 10, led by Shannon Kelly in fourth. Marissa Hatcher was sixth, Sarah Hatcher seventh, Jenny Snyder ninth and Lauren Anzelone 17th.

And in an unusual scenario, Yadira Batres finished the 3 miles in 23 minutes, 34 seconds while running for the boys after injuries left the team one short of the five needed to score as a team.

"Our coach checked it out and it was all right," she said. "I was a little nervous that I would finish last, but a lot of guys finished after me and I was able to help our boys team."

Although King has one senior, the Lions took the boys team title with 48.

King runners won both of the top individual honors. Junior Laura Bowerman won the girls race in 19:28 and senior Phillip Watson captured the boys crown in 17:30.

"There were a few rough spots, but overall the course was fast," Bowerman said. "It is always good to run with Sara Hall from Tampa Bay Tech (who finished second), because she is a quality runner. I didn't pay attention to the other competition because I was focusing on my race."

Bowerman finished fourth in the Class 3A state meet last year.

Watson is a newcomer to cross country and the only King senior. He also runs track.

"The course was pretty smooth," Watson said. "My coach told me to hold back at first and pick up in the second and third mile. I did and gave it all I have in the third mile."

In addition to Watson's win, Luke Maiorella was fourth, followed by Nate Walker (eighth), James Toohey (ninth) and Jason Renner (26th).

"Our guys followed instructions, ran well and did what they had to do to win," King coach Steve Coleman said. "I was especially pleased with Phillip's performance, since this is his first year in cross country."

Sickles coach Dave Rittenour was also pleased with the performance of his girls in both races.

"They ran a great race as a pack," Rittenour said. "Their times were pretty good, but they have plenty of time to improve, which is good for this time of the season. Winning this meet will do wonders for us, especially when we are missing two of our girls. That takes nothing away from the super run we had today."

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