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Runners-up runners

Palm Harbor U.'s 4x800 team takes second at state.

By BOB PUTNAM, Times Staff Writer
Published May 9, 2004

GAINESVILLE - Never mind that the Palm Harbor University girls had a less-than-stellar region time in the 4x800 relay. Pay no attention that the Hurricanes were seeded 10th at the Class 4A state meet. Forget that they ran out of the slow heat.

It did not matter.

Palm Harbor University's foursome of Lauren McNary, Stephanie Rancich, Beth McCubbin and Kerrie Savery ran the event in 9 minutes, 41.82 seconds to finish as the runners-up at the University of Florida's Percy Beard Stadium. Their time broke the school record by 12 seconds. Their second-place finish also was their best at state.

"The girls were ecstatic," Hurricanes distance coach Darryl Southard said. "They couldn't believe they did that well."

Southard had faith. The team was .02 seconds away from being in the fast heat, and he had the girls focus on time rather than a team. The Hurricanes easily outdistanced the field in their heat, then waited to see if their time would hold up.

"My eyes were glued to the clock as the girls in the fast-heat crossed the finish line," McCubbin said. "As their times flashed on the screen, we thought we had a chance."

PHU finished behind Miami Northwestern, which ran 9:34.91. Southard said if the girls were in the fast heat and if Savery was not weak from strep throat, the outcome could have been better.

"Had some things gone our, we might have won," Southard said.

After the 4x800 race, Rancich, McCubbin and Savery went to the movies. McNary, though, stayed back. She had more work.

McNary still had to run the 400 preliminary and final. The senior took fourth in her best event, running a personal-best 55.93 seconds.

"The day was tough because of the heat," McNary said. "The 4x800 took a lot out of me, but I was able to get enough rest. I was happy I was able to get that time."

PHU had one other place-winner, Courtney LaCroix.

The senior cleared 5 feet, 4 inches in the high jump to take bronze. It was the first time she medaled after finishing eighth in 2003 and seventh in 2002.

"I was close to hitting 5-6, but my feet hit the bar," LaCroix said. "But that's okay. I just wanted to bring home a medal."

The high jump winner, Viktoria Andonova of Coral Springs, went 6-0 to tie the state record she set last year. Seven boys and girls records were broken and three tied Saturday.

East Lake's Breanna Campion was the other county girls athlete to place. She soared 9 feet to tie Leah McNaughton of Lakewood Ranch for sixth in the pole vault.

The county also had three boys place-winners. St. Petersburg's Todd St. Louis was fifth in the pole vault (13-0), Pinellas Park's Munir Muwwakkil was sixth in the discus (156-3) and Seminole's Ken Magee was sixth in the 3,200 (9:49.53).

[Last modified May 9, 2004, 01:40:27]


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