By TERRY JONES
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 29, 2002
DURANT -- Being a rookie and dodging potholes didn't intimidate King senior Phillip Watson in Saturday's Ron Frost Invitational. He led his team to victory, winning his second race in eight days in 18 minutes, 1 second.
King won the team title with 49 points, followed by Brandon and Armwood, which tied for second with 84.
Plant City's Sara Hall won the girls race in 20:58, finishing almost two minutes ahead of Hillsborough's Jill Greer. Durant won the girls team title with 46.
Hall and Greer struggled with the rough course at Durant High, but still put together good races.
"There were a lot of holes and mud on the course, which slowed everybody down, but it was still a good race," Hall said. "I started out in front and managed to stay there for the whole run, because none of the very top runners were here today. I think my time would have been faster if I had been pushed, even with the rough course."
Greer recovered from two falls to finish second.
Durant girls coach Christie Raburn had her entire team together for the first time this season and the score showed it.
"Having the whole team together at the same time made a difference," Raburn said. "I have to share my athletes most of the time because they play other sports too. This was a tough course today, but my girls were mentally in it. They knew it was anybody's race going in."
Scoring for the Cougars were Whitney Scheid (third), Jessica Waller (fourth), Coleen Feeney (fifth), Gloria Lewis (11th) and Ashley Fertic (18th).
Watson was unable to pull away because he had to focus on the course until the final mile.
"The course had lots of holes in it and they couldn't be seen through some of the high grass spots," Watson said. "I had to focus on the course the first two miles, but on the last mile I just focused on the race and took the lead. John (Kanderman of Durant) is a good runner and he pushed me all the way."
Watson edged Kanderman by nine seconds in a sprint to the finish. In addition to Watson, King's scorers included Luke Maiorella (third), Ramon Lee (10th), Jason Renner (15th) and Phillip Crowe (18th).
"Our guys did a great job on a rough course," King boys coach Steve Coleman said. "Our top girls runner, Laura Bowerman, sprained her ankle Friday evening in a practice run on this course. Even though we were missing some of our guys today, the runners who were here ran an excellent race. They all work hard and have a lot of confidence."