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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
BRADENTON - The rutted quagmire that passed for the course during Wednesday's Class 3A, District 5 cross country meet at Lakewood Ranch would have been better suited to tug-of-war or mud wrestling.
But cross country runners always play it as it lies, and few seem to revel in the elemental challenge as much as Seminole, which won the boys and girls races going away.
Both Warhawk teams won in the mud by seemingly skimming over ankle-deep puddles with remarkably similar wire-to-wire dominance.
Seminole's boys had four of the top five runners and finished with a near-perfect score of 21.
"Sure, there was mud and some puddles, but that's cross country," said the Warhawks' Tony Nicolosi, who won with a time of 17 minutes, 8 seconds.
After the gun went off, Nicolosi got out front and stayed there. Teammates Aaron Thomas, Josh Comer and Christian Homme were not far behind.
Northeast's Jonathan Mott was surrounded by them. They surged. He surged. He was right where he wanted to be. But that only lasted for the first half-mile.
After that, Mott was out of the picture.
Nicolosi and Thomas (17:10), who took the top two spots, dragged across the finish line spattered and spent, looking as if painter Jackson Pollock had used them for target practice. Mott (17:41) was third, followed by Comer (17:43) and Homme (17:44).
"This just showed that we're as good as any team or individual out there," Thomas said. "You never know what can happen the next few weeks, but we hope things continue to go our way."
For the girls, the Warhawks' Heather Nicolosi won in 19:46, 54 seconds ahead of Lakewood's Ali Crabb.
The individual title allowed Nicolosi to put last week's disappointing second-place finish at the Pinellas County Athletic Conference meet behind her.
"Cross country has peaks and valleys," Nicolosi said. "Last week's loss (to St. Petersburg's Kerry Allen) at the PCAC meet was disappointing, but it helped motivate me."
Two of Nicolosi's teammates, Samantha Weeks (21:20) and Christie Thomas (22:59), finished in the top 10 to help Seminole score 49.
"I was proud to see how everyone else pulled through," Nicolosi said.
Other county girls who placed in top 10 were Boca Ciega's Lindsey Brooks, Clearwater's Alex Lechner and Madalyn Stills and Dixie Hollins' Brianne Shoby.