© St. Petersburg Times, published November 10, 2002
BRADENTON -- Shorecrest was the best team at Saturday's district meet and proved it by winning without one of its best runners.
Brittany Whitelock warmed up but was too sick to run. But Cori Morris, Maggie Thompson and Pavandeep Birk were not. The trio finished first, third and fourth to lead the Chargers to the title at G.T. Bray Park.
Running at a leisurely but competitive pace and concerned only with doing enough to win and advance to the region meet, Shorecrest outscored Naples St. John Neumann 38-47.
Times from the race were not available.
"I thought we'd win this, but then when Brittany dropped out, I didn't know how we'd finish," Shorecrest coach Jeff Raab said.
Keswick Christian, led by Kelly Matthews' seventh-place finish and a 10th-place finish by Amanda Miller, was fourth and St. Petersburg Catholic fifth. Both teams advanced to the region meet.
Morris, the overall winner, and Thompson went immediately to the front Saturday, along with Neumann's Nicole Grothaus as the three set the pace. Once Morris took the lead, Grothaus settled in behind and Thompson kept pace for third.
"We wanted to make sure we just advanced," said Thompson, who said that had the stakes been higher she might have made a dash for second. "We were pretty sure we'd advance, but we wanted to win, too."
With Whitelock out, Raab looked for his younger runners to answer the call. Shorecrest's top three finishers provided the difference, outscoring Neumann's 1-2-3 by eight points, but Charger eighth-grader Elizabeth McClain and sophomore Emma Boston finished 13th and 17th to make sure Neumann got no closer.
"That was a big race for Emma," Raab said. "We needed her to step up and she did."
The top finisher for St. Petersburg Catholic was Lena Mullaney in 18th place followed by Lauren Groh in 21st.