King, Armwood, Sickles and East Bay also advance to the region meet.
By TERRY JONES
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 10, 2002
RUSKIN -- Three seconds separated Justin Bass and Sam Gibbons when they crossed the finish line Saturday at E.G. Simmons Park and the teammates led a tight black row of Plant runners to their second straight district championship. The finish was so close, Gibbons could easily reverse the ending next week at the region meet. As a matter of fact, only 1 minute, 3 seconds separated all five Plant scorers as the team finished with 24 points. "I have never led a race before, but today I started out up front and stayed there," Bass said. "I think as from right now this is going to be my favorite course. Our team all did a great job today and from now on we will start tapering off to be rested for the next two meets."
Donald Greiwe, Eric Bird and Michael Llauget joined Bass and Gibbons in the top 11 for the Panthers. Gibbons is a sophomore and the others are seniors.
"We let them run all out today and they stayed together pretty much as a pack," Plant coach Tom Daly said. "These guys really want to do well and so they do. For the next two meets they will be working on speed."
Because there were 17 teams, the top eight qualified for the region meet next week in Ocala along with the top 15 individuals. Other county teams placing in the top eight were King (fourth), Armwood (fifth), Sickles (sixth) and East Bay (seventh).