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Area athletes cruise in GCAC meet

By KRISTEN LEIGH PORTER
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 13, 2003

County athletes racked up the honors in last week's Gulf Coast Athletic Conference championships.

A finish in the top two earned all-conference recognition.

Citrus took the boys title handily, even though the crown was not officially theirs until Friday after the postponed pole vault had been completed.

On Thursday, Hurricanes junior Israel Burton won the 110-meter hurdles in 15.45 seconds and the 300 hurdles in 42.00.

His 110 was slower than he wanted it to be, but he is hoping to get a 14.7 in the future.

"I wanted to be a lot better in the 110-meter hurdles for this year. The 300s I didn't really care about as much," Burton said.

"But coach (Tom) Darby really wanted to get a conference championship. I knew we weren't going to get points in everything, so I figured what I was running I may as well make it count," Burton said.

Senior Tony Lyons won the 3,200 in 10:01.81 and the 1,600 in 4:36.97 to prove once again he is the area's premier distance runner. He anchored the winning 4x800 relay.

"The mile I was kind of happy with running all by myself, running a 4:36," Lyons said. "We killed the 4x800. The legs were really good.

"Matt (Baum) did a tremendous job of coming out and (James Lopiccolo) held it for us and D.J. (Carella) made it a little further and I just finished it up."

Baum also was first in the 800 in 2:03.38. Jamaal Galloway posted victories in the high jump, long jump and tied in the triple jump.

Matt Steelfox (400), James Lopiccolo (3,200), David Mazzoli (shot put) and the 4x400 relay each turned in second-place performances.

On the girls side, Citrus' Myesha Hollis added to her individual titles by winning the 100, 200, long jump and triple.

"I lost count," Hollis said.

The Hurricanes' Maggie Lanigan (discus) and Chelsea Johnson (300 hurdles) were runner-ups.

PIRATES PRIDE: Crystal River junior Chianta Smith earned his first GCAC event championship in helping the Pirates to a runner-up finish.

Smith went 43-2 in the high jump and threw the shot put 45-9, and he tied for the high jump title with a 6-2 effort.

"I was hoping for it this year because I've been working hard at practice and everything," Smith said.

Junior Chris Bunch, still sporting tape on the left wrist he broke during the basketball season, won the 400. But he's not in top form yet.

"Not really," Bunch said. "I think I've still got a little bit more to work on.

"Hopefully when I get to districts I'll have somebody to run against or a chance to get me ready for districts and regionals," he said.

His 51.25 was a slow time, Bunch said, because last week he ran a 50-flat.

Finishing second for Crystal River were Spencer Blue (100) and the 4x100 relay.

In the girls competition, Holly Van Sicklen won the 3,200 in a season-best 12:35.70. Sophomore Breanna Driver took the shot put title with a heave of 36-11, and Lisandra Vazquez tied for first in the pole vault with a 7-6.

Also earning all-conference honors were runner-ups Iesha Natteal (100) and Denise Jay (800).

STANDOUT PANTHERS: It took a team effort for Lecanto to capture first in the standings, but several impressive individual efforts should not be overlooked.

Among the Panthers' top performers was freshman Tara Haddock, who posted a victory in the 400 with a 1:03.09.

"I just came out here and told myself I was going to run as hard as I could no matter what place I got," Haddock said. "When I won, I was so shocked I was like, 'Oh gosh, I'm only a freshmen."'

Sophomore Amy Rundio was tops in the 800 in 2:32.19, and senior Stacey Lowe captured the 100 and 300 hurdles crowns and tied for second in the high jump. The 4x800 relay of Haddock, Annemarie Saxer, Rundio and Deirdra Witherspoon also won.

Nicole Gasiorek (400), Witherspoon (1,600, 3,200), Lisa Bonadonna (100 hurdles), Nikki Pontius (shot put) and 4x400 and 4x100 meter relays were second.

Nick Norton (1,600) was the lone Lecanto boy to earn GCAC recognition.

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