Panthers open season with pair of titles

The Lecanto boys and girls teams take care of the competition at their invitational.

Published March 3, 2006

LECANTO - Lecanto invited five local teams to come start the season at its home field for the Lecanto Invitational on Thursday night, but the Panthers were not very gracious hosts.

Both the Lecanto boys and girls took the overall titles. The boys finished with 123 points, 24 more than East Ridge. The girls also blew away their opponents, outscoring second fiddle East Ridge 156.5 to 76.

Lecanto's Richard Chaney, the school's best all-around athlete, competed in four events and placed in all of them. He took first in the triple jump (41 feet, 3 inches) and was just as successful with a win in the high jump (5 feet, 10 inches). The wins accounted for two of Lecanto's six individual titles.

The Panther girls finished with seven individual titles in 17 events. Shaneatha Gates shined in the shotput, outthrowing Hernando's star thrower Valerie Blount to set a school record (36 feet, 10.75 inches). Blount went on to take the title in the discus with a toss of 103 feet, besting Gates by almost 9 feet.

Hernando's boys rely on their long distance runners to carry the team, and that group did not disappoint. The Leopards began the meet with a 4x800-meter relay consisting of Jacob Bess, Andrew Martucci, Ben Martucci and Justin Owens. That group set an early personal best on its way to first place (10:56.75). Ben Martucci also took first in the 800 meters with a time of 2:03.18.

Springstead's Mike King had a jaw-dropping performance in the 110-meter hurdles. King easily defeated his closest competitor and ran the race in only 15.34 seconds.

Central's Dujuan Harris also showed off in a couple of events, taking two first places. In the 200 meters, Harris ran the length in 22.93 seconds, and he took off for a distance of 22 feet, 9 inches in the long jump.

The Central boys (47 points) and Hernando girls (51.5 points) each finished third in the season opener, getting valiant efforts from their competitors, but both programs were short-handed in the meet.