© St. Petersburg Times, published November 17, 2002
LARGO -- Indian Rocks Christian will take plenty of momentum into next week's state meet after sweeping the boys and girls Class A, Region 2 race Friday at Taylor Park. The Eagle girls, paced by freshman Melissa Kotchman, edged Berkeley Prep for the team championship 69-73.
The IRC boys team won by an even smaller margin, 56-58 over St. Petersburg Catholic. The top six teams, as well as the top 15 individuals, qualify for state, to be held at the Ed Radice Sports Complex on Nov. 23 in Tampa.
Aside from IRC and Berkeley Prep, area girls teams Shorecrest and Academy of Holy Names also qualified for the state meet. Boys teams Keswick Christian (third with 67 points), Admiral Farragut (fourth, 108 points) and Shorecrest (fifth, 137 points) advanced.
While the team race was a nail-biter, the individual races weren't close. Kotchman won the girls competition by 55 seconds over Jessica Marlier of Avon Park Walker Memorial. Marlier, a Seventh Day Adventist, will not run at state because it is on a Saturday.
"I don't like this course in the least," Kotchman said. "There aren't any trees and the wind just blows. The one in Tampa is much more fun. I hope to run much better."
John Biffar of Admiral Farragut had an easy time winning the boys championship in 16 minutes, 2.19 seconds. He beat Daniel Bedell of Walker Memorial by 23 seconds. Bedell also will not run at states.
"There was nobody there to push me today," Biffar said. "I pulled away and everyone seemed to die out."
Biffar expects to be pushed next week. And he has high expectations overall.
"I want to finish in the top two," he said.