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Red Mule race interest runs high

© St. Petersburg Times
published September 24, 2002

The Red Mule Invitational long has been a popular destination for prep teams, what with its fast, shaded course and strong competition. But there was a time it got to be too popular.

"Two years ago, some of the schools just started copying the invitation and faxing them around," said Chuck Boldt, Springstead boys coach and president of the Red Mule Runners Club.

"They weren't even technically invited, but (Hernando coach) Ernie (Chatman) couldn't turn them away when they showed up with a check and said, "Here's my roster.' "

A record 26 schools attended, bringing 443 runners. The additional athletes crowded the course and made parking a mess.

A more slimmed-down Red Mule race is scheduled for Saturday at McKethan Lake Park, east of Brooksville. Seven schools were turned away, leaving about 20 for the 5-kilometer event, which is hosted by Hernando High and funded by the Red Mule Runners Club. Everything gets underway with the girls varsity race at 8:30 a.m., followed by the boys varsity, girls junior varsity and boys JV.

"Everybody's seen the top teams and top runners out there at this point," Boldt said.

"Most of the runners are getting near their peak times, and it's a good indicator of what's going to happen the next few weeks when teams get to their conference and district and regionals."

The smaller field isn't the only change this year. The course was reconfigured slightly to meet the state's standard distance of 5K, rather than the previous three miles. To create the extra tenth of a mile, runners will be routed off the lime rock road, make two treks through the woods, take more turns and have a slightly longer jaunt to the finish line.

BOYS: Hernando placed two runners in the top 10 en route to a fourth-place finish in the small-school division of the Invitational on Saturday at Polk Community College in Winter Haven.

Mike Laird was ninth in 17 minutes, 41.13 seconds, followed by 10th-place Logan Emerson, 17:42.12. Philip Dysart was 27th, 18:41.96; Bret Chatman 43rd, 19:14.85; Tommy Hessler 48th, 19:34.60; Zak Lukas 67th, 20:22.71.

Central took 16th in the large-school class. Kurt Lee was 11th in 17:30.29, Josh Bergeron 56th, 18:48.88; and Bryan Gordon 92nd, 19:38.51. Andrew Castiglione (20:36.64), Daniel Henson (20:40.97) and Josh Dubois (20:41.60) were bunched at Nos. 120-122, and Kevin Shuster was 136th, 21:34.63.

GIRLS: Central placed 12th in the large-school division of the Invitational.

Seventeenth-place Magen Loew led the way, 21:47.59. Kerri Costanzo was 44th, 22:51.53; Amanda Adams 62nd, 23:26.47; Felicia Fritz 69th, 23:48.15; Holly May 96th, 25:08.59, Christie Strally 113th, 26:01.92; and Marissa Lubosco 129th, 26:59.32.

Hernando took 15th among small schools. Leela Hadsock was 37th in 23:43.86, Nicole Daughtry 69th, 24:41.29; Katee Lukas 82nd, 25:28.99; Meghan Murphy 100th, 26:24.60; and Kristi Morrill 101st, 26:32.28.

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