Leopards lock up second

Ben Martucci leads Hernando's boys to the runnerup spot behind a tough Jesuit contingent.

Published November 13, 2005

DADE CITY - Hernando can thank one honest coach for his integrity.

Gulliver Prep coach Don Reinken knew something was amiss after hearing his No. 6 runner announced as a top-five finisher in Saturday's Class 2A boys final.

"We would have been really up there among the top teams," Reinken said.

Raiders junior Philip Woerner (16:24) finished fifth wearing one running clip on each shoe.

The left shoe - with his teammate's clip - registered the first time as it crossed the finish. His clip crossed second. The mistake would have landed Gulliver Prep in the top five.

The correction - initiated by Reinken - took a few minutes and placed Hernando (122) second behind Jesuit (78). Gulliver Prep (184) finished sixth, Crystal River (407) was 17th and Lecanto (477) 20th.

Leopards junior Ben Martucci (16:19) placed third, junior Andrew Martucci (16:52) was 10th, and senior Jacob Bess (17:14) finished 18th.

"That's what we were shooting for," Hernando coach Ernie Chatman said. "In reality, Jesuit was the best team. We would love to have been able to beat them."

In 3A boys action, Land O'Lakes senior Steven Bell (16:25) earned his best finish at state with a fifth-place ribbon to add to his region, district and conference titles this season. He had a sixth-place finish at state as a sophomore and eighth as a junior.

Bell ran virtually even with the top five until the lead group began to pull away after the 2-mile mark. Land O'Lakes (310) finished ninth overall.

"They started pulling away," Bell said, "and I just didn't have it in me to go with them today."

In 2A girls action, Pasco freshman Leeann Eble (20:46) finished her ninth-grade campaign by placing 32nd. Eble won five of her first seven races, but said she was hampered by pain in her right knee Saturday, the result of a soccer injury. Lecanto finished 20th out of 24 teams.

"She did alright for her first time around," Pasco coach Barry Grayling said. "We've been impressed and proud by what she's done."

Individual North Suncoast performances include: Crystal River senior Holly Van Sicklen (21:04) finished 39th in 2A girls; Wesley Chapel sophomore Kirsten Fee (21:21) 41st in 3A girls; Springstead freshman Yoland Lopes (21:57) 65th in 3A girls; Gulf senior Tommy Accaria (18:50) 124th in 3A boys; Mitchell senior Jeff Surmin (17:09) 18th in 4A boys.

"I think I had the best race I could," Surmin said. "I'm glad it's over."

Contact Izzy Gould at 727 580-5315 or igould@sptimes.com