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Buccaneers back to state form

The girls win, the boys finish third, and both advance.

Published October 30, 2004

LARGO - Berkeley Prep has been there before. But not for a while, and not without Rolf Steier leading the way.

The Buccaneer boys are going back to state after a two-year absence, earning the right with a third-place finish at Friday morning's Class A, Region 2 meet at Taylor Park.

It is Berkeley's first trip without Steier, a former three-time state champion now running for Stanford. The state meet is Nov. 6 at Tampa's Ed Radice Sports Complex.

"The boys are thrilled to get to state," said coach Eileen Daly, dressed for Halloween as - what else? - a Buccaneer. "They were quite upset in the last couple of years to not make that progression. That's always a letdown when you don't move on.

"This is quite exciting."

But the day belonged to the Berkeley girls, who won the program's first region title in more than a decade. Jane Watts is just an eighth-grader, but Friday she paved the way to the title with a runner-up finish in 20 minutes, 15.37 seconds.

"She did absolutely fabulous," Daly said. "She had a great run."

Caitlin Ainsley was fourth (20:22.01) and Rachel Borrelli 11th (21:18.32), while placing 17-18-19 were Page Price (21:40.91), Raiza Cabral (21:44.41) and America Deupree (21:45.34).

The girls again beat Bay Conference foe Shorecrest, winning the region title by 18 points.

For the boys, Adam Kerr led the way with a seventh-place finish (17:28.70). The Frostproof boys won the team title with 36 points, edging runner-up Indian Rocks Christian by 51 and Berkeley by 60.

IRC swept the individual honors. Tim Rousonelos was the boys winner (16:34.33) and Janelle Hewel the girls (20:08.89). Tampa Prep didn't qualify for state, but the school's top runners were Carrie Field (25th, 22:03.68) and Aaron Koch (47th, 19:46.42).

3A-2: Plant girls win

AUBURNDALE - Plant's girls won their Class 3A region title Friday, edging Wharton 46-48 in an intense race helped by the first-place run of Panther freshman Brigithe Moreno.

With 85 points, Sickles was third to give Hillsborough County a sweep of the top three.

East Bay's Paige Williams placed third and Alonso's Madison Taylor finished 14th to earn state berths.

In the boys race, Flagler Palm Coast won the team title with 65 points, followed by George Jenkins with 80. Wharton was third (109) and Brandon fourth (120). Both teams qualified for the state meet.

Evander Jones, a Jefferson junior, finished third as the fastest individual runner from Hillsborough County. He ran his fastest 3-mile race in 15:59.

"I finally broke the 16-minute mark, which is a big goal for me," Jones said.

The other county runners qualifying for state as an individual include Plant's Sam Gibbons and King's Luke Maiorella.

Roy Harrison, who coaches the Plant girls, thinks his team can improve at state.

"They were running strong, but I didn't let them rest for today's race; they were a little tired," Harrison said. Wharton's Jessica Forrester took second in the girls race.

"The clouds came at just the right time to give us a little shade today," Forrester said. - TERRY JONES, Times correspondent

2A-3: Jesuit, AHN tops

CITRUS PARK - While Andy Biladeau's win continued a long line of excellence for Jesuit runners, Sara Petrick garnered the first region title for Academy of the Holy Names.

Biladeau was unchallenged, winning in 15:48, almost a minute ahead of his nearest competitor, Zephyrhills' Jose' Espinoza (16:45).

Biladeau's teammates ran a disciplined race, finishing third, fifth, sixth, eighth, 10th and 15th for a low team score of 23. Fort Myers Bishop Verot was second with 92 points. Newsome narrowly missed making it to the state meet, finishing seventh with 177.

The win gave the Tigers their seventh consecutive region title and made a fitting present for coach Mike Boza's 44th birthday.

"I'm pleased with the way they executed the race plan," Boza said. "It's difficult to monitor your pace and block out all the distractions. "

Boza said he instructed his runners, including Biladeau, to hold back and save their best stuff for next week's state meet, also at Ed Radice Park.

Biladeau may have been taking it easy, but Petrick went all out in trying to distance herself from the field. She finished her first lap under six minutes, and by the second lap had a 22-second lead. She easily cruised to victory in 19:40, well ahead of Hernando's Leela Hadsock (20:21).

"I wanted a fast start and wanted to pick it up and make the second mile faster," Petrick said. Petrick said she beat her best time on the course by about 20 seconds. Academy also captured the team title, edging Hernando 37-41. Petrick's younger sister, sixth-grader Marisa, finished just ahead of Hernando's last runner to help the Jaguars edge the Leopards.

- JEREMY RASMUSSEN, Times correspondent

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