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Wildcats win SAC crowns

By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 11, 2003

LAND O'LAKES -- It is hard to imagine a worse coronation. Dark clouds overhead. The unseasonable 59-degree weather. Two rain delays. Chilled 20-mph winds that swept across the track.

Yet, there was Angela Medvid taking the baton five meters off the lead in the night's last event, the 4x400, and sprinting full-throttle to finish first at Gator Stadium.

"I couldn't feel my legs," Medvid said afterward.

Just like that, history was made.

Medvid and her Wesley Chapel teammates denied the Ridgewood girls their 15th Sunshine Athletic Conference title and seventh consecutive crown Thursday. Instead, it is the Wildcats who won their first conference championship -- by two points -- in a thrilling, weather-impaired SAC meet.

"Unbelievable," coach Brian Colding said. "I challenged the girls on Monday to step up and perform at their best. They did that, and then some.

"It came down to the 4x400, the last race of the night, and what do they do? We set a school record (52.51)."

Rams coach Sue Vien's squad lost its first regular-season meet since 1997.

"There were too many points we gave up," Vien said, "and they picked them all up. They did a great job and they deserved it."

The Rams' Jenn Hayes won three events -- the long jump (16 feet, 8 1/2 inches), the triple jump (34-113/4) and the 100 high hurdles (15.57) -- was second in the 300 hurdles (49.06) and fourth in the 4x400 (4:31.71). But Zephyrhills edged Ridgewood for third in the 4x400 by .71 seconds, which proved crucial.

That battle was the night's main event. But what Colding didn't count on was the Wesley Chapel boys defending their SAC title without a host of standouts.

Aaron Dickler, Travis Ugarte, Jose Arroyo and an injured Jon Muhammed filled in admirably to keep Mitchell second.

Mitchell had the top male in Jeff Masterson, who won the 800 (2:02.62), the 1,600 (4:30), the 3,200 (10:08) and led the winning 4x800 squad (8:38).

The day was marred by the injury of Pasco star LaShawn Vaughns, who sustained a serious left knee injury in the long jump pit on her second jump and had to be taken to East Pasco Regional Medical Center in Dade City.

Her status for the rest of the season is unknown.

"People standing close said they heard a snap," Pirates coach Raven Lewis said. "She lay in the dirt in pain."

Lewis said Vaughns' left knee turned inward and buckled on landing. "She was upset she wouldn't get to finish the meet."

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