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Fifth runner lifts Keswick

By JOHN C. COTEY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 10, 2002

BRADENTON -- After the first 12 runners finished Saturday, St. Petersburg Catholic coach Jeff Ehlert and Keswick Christian coach Lance Lipham did a quick count and knew each had four runners in.

It came down to the No.5 runners, and while Ehlert waited on his, Lipham could only smile as Keswick's No.5 crossed the finish line.

And while Ehlert waited some more, Keswick's sixth runner finished ... then its seventh.

By the time the Barons' final scorer finished the 5-kilometer course, it was over. Keswick Christian was the district champion.

With 40 points, the Crusaders knocked off the defending district champion Barons, who scored 64 points.

Admiral Farragut, led by overall winner John Biffar (official times were not available.), was third with 69 points, and Shorecrest fourth (91) as Pinellas County swept the top four spots. The top six advanced to the region meet.

Keswick's victory was surprising but moreso the margin of victory. The Crusaders were only four points behind the Barons at the City Meet, but the Barons, preseason No.2 in the state, were expected to revert to their dominant selves at any time.

Not Saturday. Already eclipsed by Indian Rocks Christian this season, the Barons might have to settle for being third-best in the county among private schools.

"We've worked hard for the last two months for this," Lipham said. "Our goal was to run with St. Pete Catholic.

"They beat us by four points at the City Meet, and I told our guys four points is nothing."

Keswick won thanks to what Lipham called a "heroic" effort by senior Scott Eagle, who fell in a heap so violent looking, his teammates believed he was finished.

Tanner Tidwell, who was fourth behind teammate William Werly, told Lipham that Eagle "made such an ugly sound when he went down, I thought he was dead."

Eagle got up and finished 12th, making the Baron lead only 25-26 after four runners. But No.5 runner Ryan Haumschild finished 14th. The Barons' fifth finished 39th, and the 25-point difference was all the Crusaders needed.

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