Hernando runners, past and present, have banner day

Leopards grad John Emerson is the flrunners.com mixed race runnerup; Ben Martucci places 10th in prep Race of Champions.

Published October 2, 2005

DADE CITY - John Emerson was fine with second place.

Emerson, a former distance runner at Hernando High and Florida Southern College, finished second to Everett Whiteside in the flrunners.com Invitational mixed open race Saturday at Little Everglades Ranch.

There were almost 5,200 runners registered for the events.

Whiteside, from Pensacola, took first in 15:52, 10 seconds ahead of Emerson. Temple Terrace's Lee Stephens was sixth, but deserved an asterisk for his efforts.

Stephens, a former Land O'Lakes High and Florida Southern standout, won the Beat the Sheriff Race earlier in the day in Inverness. He ran a 17:05 in Citrus County and 16:26 in Dade City.

"You love to get the win but I have been running around all morning watching my guys run," said Emerson, who is an assistant coach for Hernando High. "I'm used to hills."

Hernando's Ben Martucci took 10th in the high school boys 5K Race of Champions in 15:56.28. Justin Harbor of Flagler Palm won in 15:26.36.

"I was just trying to get into the top 10," Martucci said. "I stayed with the pack for the first mile. It was really hot. The hills are fine."

Hernando's boys finished 12th out of 18 schools with 321 points. Warwick Valley Central won with 103. Jacob Bess was 33rd with a personal best time of 16:38.70 for the Leopards.

"Ben got 10th place and that was pretty fast," Hernando coach Ernie Chatman said. "We had five guys 17:45 or better. Overall, I think it was a pretty good day."

Land O'Lakes' Jake Proudfoot was 51st (16:56.93). Teammate Steven Bell was 58th (16:59.65).

Hernando's Anna Gray was 20th in the girls 5K Varsity Open in 21:51.53. Freshman Emily Stephens was 28th (22:25).

"I did well considering it's really hot outside," Gray said. "It was not my best. I was having a little trouble breathing but I ran through it."

The Hernando girls finished ninth with 256 points.

Mitchell's Jeff Surmin was fourth in the boys Varsity Open in 17:11.59. Mitchell's boys were 16th overall with 410 points.