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Falcon's confidence unhurt

A car crash in October cost Leto's Coe Fedorenko a week of the season. Now that he's back he expects to win.

By MIKE READLING, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 4, 2002

A car crash in October cost Leto's Coe Fedorenko a week of the season. Now that he's back he expects to win.

TAMPA -- At some point during a conversation about the upcoming district meet, one feels compelled to ask Coe Fedorenko if he is afraid of coming off as cocky.

It is a question Fedorenko undoubtedly has been asked before.

"Have you ever looked up cocky in the dictionary?" he asked.

Cocky is an adjective, and the second part of the definition is "self-confident in an aggressive or swaggering way." The key words are self-confident, which is what the Leto senior is when he is running.

"It's just trusting in yourself," Fedorenko said. "I believe I can win any race I run."

So who does Fedorenko consider his biggest competition at Thursday's Class 4A, District 4 meet at Bray Park in Bradenton?

"I'm it," he said.

Who's going to argue with him?

Fedorenko has the ninth-fastest 5-kilometer time in the state, finishing the course at the University of Florida Invitational in 15 minutes, 48 seconds. No one else in his district is in the top 25. He runs for perhaps the most storied cross-country school in the state, and his coaches, all former Leto runners, know what it takes to win state titles.

The only crimp in Fedorenko's season came Oct. 9. As he was driving home from practice about 8 p.m., Fedorenko was hit by a woman driving an SUV.

His back hurt. His hip hurt. His car was totaled five years to the day after he moved to the United States from Odessa, Ukraine, where he was born.

Fedorenko took a week off, hoping the pain would dissipate. When it didn't, he began training again and made his comeback Oct. 19 in the Pre-State Meet at Ed Radice Park. Running through the pain, Fedorenko finished the Bay Cup race in 16:10 and was second to Clearwater Central Catholic's Kevin Lyons.

"My back still hurts, the muscles are really tied up. It never quits, it just gets worse," Fedorenko said. "My leg still feels kind of flimsy, my knee is constantly hurting me and my hip is bothering me all the time. I have a sharp pain in my leg, but only when I run."

But quitting was never an option. Fedorenko doesn't even like to answer questions about it.

He thinks resting for a week was a good thing. While the rest of the state was running during those seven days, his body was recovering, his mind refocusing.

"I kind of thought it was going to set me back a lot, but then I thought I've run through pain before, I can do it again," Fedorenko said. "I had doubts for a while. Then I decided I don't care what I run, as long as I win. I still have a month left."

As for the rest of the Leto team, Fedorenko said he would do his best to lead the Falcons to a state title but will need help from the rest of the runners.

"They're pretty focused," Fedorenko said. "If they get together and work at it and not look at what everybody's doing wrong then I could help them in becoming the best team they can be. Since I'm going to be up front they have to follow me. I can't promise first place because Winter Park is very very strong, but if we get focused we can do magic."

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