tampabay.com

Allen makes up for opener at USF

By BOB PUTNAM
Published September 13, 2005


St. Petersburg's Kerry Allen usually strides away from the start of a cross country race with her brown, shoulder-length hair serving as a guidepost for other runners to determine how far she is ahead of them.

So when Seminole's Heather Nicolosi surged past Allen and into the lead during last week's tri-meet at Taylor Park, all eyes blinked.

Nicolosi reached the top of the medal stand by beating her nemesis for the first time. Better still, she dominated the race, winning in 19 minutes, 27 seconds, nearly a minute faster than Allen.

"There was a possibility of Heather winning," Warhawks coach Bruce Calhoun said. "But I didn't think it would occur until it actually happened."

Nicolosi had been waiting for this moment since last season ended. She followed a stringent workout plan that helped increase her speed and stamina.

The time Nicolosi invested into becoming a better runner paid off as she set an intimidating early pace. Allen stayed with her and the two surged and slowed and surged again.

The incessant passing and jostling continued through most of the first two miles. Then Nicolosi kicked it into another gear. Allen tried to cling to the pace but couldn't keep up.

"Heather just went after it," Calhoun said. "She tried to force the issue one way or another and decided to run with Kerry as long as she could. It put her in a good position to win."

Allen said her sub-par performance was not because she was pacing herself for other big meets.

"This wasn't about saving energy or anything like that," Allen said. "It was about being mentally unprepared. I knew Heather ran some really good times in the summer, and that made me nervous. I had myself convinced that she could beat me."

Allen atoned for her season-opening loss by placing third at last week's USF Invitational with a time of 19:22.

"I think I went into that race more calm," Allen said. "In some ways that loss (to Nicolosi last week) was good because it took the target of my back. There no longer is the burden of having to win every race."

SEMINOLE STAMPEDE: There are two months left in the regular season, but is there any reason the engravers should not get started on the Pinellas County Athletic Conference trophy right now?

Does anyone envision a scenario in which Seminole does not breeze to another boys title?

The Warhawks are clearly the favorite after last week's dominating performance at Taylor Park. Seminole, ranked No. 2 in Class 3A by flrunners.com, had the first five place-winners, led by Tony Nicolosi (16:53).

Other top five finishers were Aaron Thomas (17:09), Dustin Kapper (17:15), Josh Comer (17:17) and Christian Homme (17:21).

"I was pleased with the way we ran," Calhoun said. "I never expected us to have the top five finishers."

A PRIVATE MATTER: Indian Rocks Christian and Shorecrest won the boys and girls titles, respectively, at last week's Keswick Invitational, a meet that features mostly private schools.

Tim Rousonelos , the boys individual champion (17:27), helped the Golden Eagles scored 52 to beat Shorecrest by 34. Indian Rocks Christian also had the girls individual winner, Melissa Kotchman (20:26). But that wasn't enough to overcome the Chargers superior depth.

UP NEXT: Two big meets will be held on Thursday. The Rebel Invitational is at Walter Fuller Park in St. Petersburg and features mostly south county teams. Meanwhile, the Hurricane Invitational will be hosted by Palm Harbor University and includes several north county schools, as well as Central.