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Amerman emerges and Lyons cruises

The Wesley Chapel and Citrus runners capture individual girls and boys crowns, but Lecanto and Satellite take team titles.

By KEITH NIEBUHR, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 13, 2002

INVERNESS -- Stephanie Amerman barely made a blip on the North Suncoast's cross-country radar screen in 2001. She almost always placed in the top 20, but rarely made the top 10.

"Last year, nobody had ever heard of me," Amerman said.

They have now.

The Wesley Chapel sophomore claimed her second career title Saturday at the prestigious Citrus Invitational at Whispering Pines Park, finishing in 20 minutes, 10 seconds. Shannon Miley (20:18) of Satellite was second, followed by Melissa Dattoli (20:32) of Gulf, Mitchell's Nicole Guercio (20:42) and Lecanto's Nicole Mailloux (20:44).

Lecanto, with 85 points, won the girls title for the second year in a row. Satellite (118), Belleview (120), River Ridge (121) and Crystal River (129) completed the top five.

Satellite, No. 4 in Class 3A, was the boys champion with 72 points. Host Citrus (74) was next, followed by Hernando (114), Land O'Lakes (115) and River Ridge (138). Citrus senior Tony Lyons (16:15) won the individual title.

Amerman's previous win came at Wesley Chapel's Wildcat Invitational, but she has three second-place finishes this fall. She did not reach the state meet in 2001.

Amerman was plagued by a head cold and shin splints Saturday, neither of which seemed to bother her. She took the lead over Miley, who ran with a sore foot, near the halfway point and controlled the race to the finish. "I trained all summer," Amerman said. "This is my first win at a big meet. My goal was to beat (Guercio). She has been my competition all year. I had never beaten her."

Aside from Mailloux, Lecanto had another strong finish from Deirdra Witherspoon (sixth). Lisa Bonadonna, Santana Huggett and Kimmy Horace also ran well.

"I'm shocked we won," Panthers coach Dan Epstein said. "I really thought Satellite would win. I didn't think we'd beat them. It looked a whole lot closer than it was. The girls did it all."

Lyons dominated the boys race from the start, surging to an early lead and defeating second-place Lief Thomason of Satellite (16:32) by 17 seconds. David Forry of Wesley Chapel (16:40) was third.

"I felt great," Lyons said. "That's the best I've felt this year. I kept the lead the whole way and that's what I wanted to do."

Top 10 finishes from Thomason and John Rohr (eighth, 17:05) propelled Satellite to the title, even though the Scorpions were without top runner Alex Stewart, who was taking the SAT. With Lyons, Matt Baum (10th, 17:12) and Kyle Helt (18th, 18:05), Citrus challenged for the title.

"I was very pleased," Satellite coach Mike Mendonca said. "We had several (personal bests)."

Mitchell, No. 2 in Class 3A, held out its top four runners, including standouts Jeff Masterson and Danny Sheehan, in preparation for next week's Pre-state meet in Tampa. The Mustangs placed seventh.

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