The King junior cruises to victory while Plant captures its eighth team championship, the most in state history.
By SCOTT PURKS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 24, 2002
TAMPA -- One individual state champion cruised to victory without a doubt while a team champion had to fight through the race and then stand around to sweat it out.
The cruising individual was King junior Laura Bowerman, handily winning the Class 3A title Saturday at Ed Radice Park. She completed the 3.1-mile course in 18 minutes, 41 seconds.
Her time was 22 seconds faster than second-place Alison Barlow of Clay, and it was the third-fastest time from any classification. The fastest went to Oviedo sophomore Jennifer Barringer, who won the Class 4A title in 18:26.
Plant had to wait for the final results before learning it had won its state-record eighth team title, all acquired since 1991. Jacksonville Bishop Kenny stands alone in second with seven championships.
For the first time in any of the Panthers' state titles, however, none of their runners placed higher than 10th. They also piled up one of their higher point totals (130) but were still comfortably ahead of second-place Naples Lely at 159.
Paige Redfield was the Panthers' leader, finishing 11th in 20:08. Kristen Dunkel was 14th in 20:13, followed by defending state champion Mallory Giordano at 30th in 20:37.
"This was a shaky one this year, but a very satisfying one," Plant coach Roy Harrison said. "Not all of our girls ran their best, but we still won with depth.
"It's five against five in these races, and one through five we got it done."
Got it done despite Giordano never getting up to speed this season after suffering a stress fracture in the spring.
"She didn't run at all over the summer because she was trying to recover," Harrison said. "Today she ran for the team, and she ran her hardest."
Bowerman, who at one point this season owned the state's fastest time, said everything went as scripted.
"The plan was to sit back and relax until the pace slowed and then take the lead," Bowerman said. "That's what I did and it worked out well."
CLASS A: Berkeley Prep was the highest local team at eighth place with 229 points, followed by Indian Rocks Christian (ninth, 238), Shorecrest (10th, 247) and Academy of the Holy Names (12th, 319).
Berkeley Prep's Farrah Elchahal was the highest individual finisher from Tampa at 14th in 20:28. Academy of the Holy Names sophomore Sara Petrick was 19th in 20:34.
Holy Trinity won the team title with 63 points followed by Tallahassee Maclay (120).
CLASS 2A: Miami Our Lady of Lourdes won the title with 73 points, defeating Jacksonville Bishop Kenny by three. Bishop Kenny's second-place finish also secured Plant's state-record eighth championship.
Cocoa Beach's Elynore Kabboord, among the fastest in the state in any classification this season, won the individual title in 18:48.
CLASS 4A: Running as an individual qualifier, Plant City's Sara Hall led the county, finishing 10th in 19:18.
Gaither, the county's only 4A team representative, was 13th with 351 points. Gaither freshman Amanda Quick was 15th in 19:48.
Oviedo's Barringer was the individual winner while Boca Raton Spanish River dominated like no other team at the meet, scoring 55 and beating runner-up Orlando Boone by 87.