Leopards leap at right time
By JOHN SCHWARB, Times Staff Writer
Published October 28, 2003
SPRING HILL - In a fairly weak Class 2A, District 5, Hernando's girls were not going to have much trouble advancing to the Region 3 meet.
But in finishing third on Saturday, with three runners in the top 15, the Leopards exceeded expectations. They beat St. Petersburg Catholic, which defeated Hernando this season at the flrunners.com Invitational.
"We're very excited," Leopards coach Erin Sullivan said. "The whole team worked well together."
Leela Hadsock led the Leopards at Anderson Snow Sports Complex with a sixth-place finish, and a ninth from Anna Gray and 15th from Nicole Daughtry were crucial in holding off SPC by 15 points.
And the team was not well-rested. Several runners almost always are exhausted by Saturday mornings.
"Leela, Anna and (No. 5 runner) Kristie (Morrill) are all in the band," Sullivan said. "Every day they practice, then go play in band. Friday night they play the games, then Saturday mornings are meets."
On top of that there are band competitions on many Saturdays after meets. Should the team advance to the state meet Nov. 8, in which Class 2A schools will compete at night, the girls in the band will run after a state competition in the afternoon.
This week, however, Sullivan is delighted. The region meet is 4:30 p.m. Friday in Tampa, before the football team's game instead of the morning after.
"It's the week we really need them to do well and I actually get to have them run a race before band," Sullivan said. "They can be tired for the band once."
FRESHMAN SURGE: Also as expected, Hernando's boys advanced to the Region 3 meet. Senior Logan Emerson paced the Leopards with a sixth-place finish and another senior, Mike Laird, was not far behind in ninth.
Then in 13th place (18 minutes, 33 seconds) came freshman Ben Martucci, who has quietly progressed all season. "He's run quite well," coach Ernie Chatman said.
Ben Martucci (brother Andrew Martucci, also a freshman, finished 18th) ran track at Parrott Middle School the past two years, but brought virtually no distance experience to the start of the cross country season.
"I didn't run much at all this summer ... three days. I mean three days the whole summer," Ben Martucci said. "I didn't run at all, I didn't think I was going to be doing cross country."
Once he got into it, however, Ben Martucci said it became addictive and even simple. Now he runs six miles a day and can transfer success to meets.
"I really didn't think when I was coming in on the team that I would be getting that far up there," said Ben Martucci, who turned 15 on Oct. 18. "But it feels easy. It just comes. I don't feel any pressure at all."
IN THE BOOKS: Nature Coast Tech's inaugural boys season ended with 11th place at district. Senior Kyle Keene was 41st (20:59) and freshman Kevin MacLeod was one second behind in 42nd.
The Sharks girls did not record a team score. Sophomore Lauree Sharkey finished 41st in 27:01.
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