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Masterson, Mustangs win Red Mule

By FRANK PASTOR

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 29, 2002


BROOKSVILLE -- His head congested, nose running, stomach swimming and legs shot, Tony Lyons tried everything to hold off Jeff Masterson.

BROOKSVILLE -- His head congested, nose running, stomach swimming and legs shot, Tony Lyons tried everything to hold off Jeff Masterson.

When nothing worked, an answer came to the Citrus senior.

"I should have sneezed on him," Lyons said.

Masterson accelerated past Lyons at the 1-mile mark and shrugged off cramps in the final mile to win the boys race at the Red Mule Invitational on Saturday at McKethan Lake Park. The Mitchell sophomore finished in 15 minutes, 52 seconds, 22 seconds ahead of Lyons, who spent the past week battling a stomach flu.

Wesley Chapel's Kurt Able was third in 16:20.

"For this course and for this day, I did good," Masterson said. "I'm very happy."

Masterson's performance helped Mitchell, ranked second in Class 3A by flrunners.com, to first place. Danny Sheehan (16:25) was fourth, John Tuccio (16:42) seventh and Brandon Steiner (17:03) 12th, as the Mustangs finished 99 points ahead of second-place Citrus.

Lyons led for most of the first mile, but Masterson never let him get more than 10 or 15 feet ahead before making his move.

"At the mile, I wanted to surge real hard, pass him fast, get ahead of him and then work off that," Masterson said. "Keep pushing and pushing until the end of the second mile, and that's what I did."

The race marked the second time in three weeks Masterson and Lyons placed 1-2. Masterson finished 19 seconds ahead of Lyons at the Land O'Lakes Invitational on Sept. 7 at Crews Lake Park.

"He knows how to race," Lyons said. "Just flat out, he knows how to race."

Sarasota Riverview won the girls race behind Shea Cookerly's first-place finish.

Cookerly led from the start and held off a late charge from St. John Neumann's Nichole Grothaus to win in 19:37, four seconds ahead of Grothaus.

"I knew that her coach was screaming pretty loud, and I knew she was there about the whole race," Cookerly said. "She had a pretty good kick. I just wanted to see if I could hold on."

Wharton was seventh in both races.

Nicole Stanley was the Wildcats' top girls finisher, placing 12th in 21:06. Erica Garrish was 22nd in 21:34. Jose Rodriguez finished 25th in the boys race in 17:30.

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