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Pirates freshman leaves fear in dust

Pasco's Leeann Eble pushes recent collapses aside to win the conference in 20:22.

By IZZY GOULD
Published October 14, 2006


HUDSON - Leeann Eble admits she was scared to run. Two collapses at different races, an ambulance ride, a hospital stay and a heart monitor would scare anyone.

The Pasco freshman recaptured her smile and swagger Friday morning after defending her Sunshine Athletic Conference title at Crews Lake Park with a top time of 20:22. Wesley Chapel also defended its team title, winning with the low score of 55 points.

Individual attention centered on Eble's first bay area race since her collapse Sept. 16 at the Lecanto Invitational. (She also collapsed after the Gator Invitational in September.) As usual, she surged ahead at the start and led the entire race. Her closest competitor was Wesley Chapel junior Kirsten Fee, who was slowed by congestion that has bothered her since last week's Webber Invitational. She finished second Saturday in 20:43.

Eble ran with a confidence she said was missing less than 24 hours before Friday's race. She credits a run at Little Everglades Ranch on Thursday alongside bicycle peddling Saint Leo men's cross country coach Cyle Sage with helping her overcome her fear of another collapse.

Eble said she believes her second collapse was due in part to being dehydrated from medicine she was taking for a brief illness. Doctors wanted to monitor her heart because of her irregular heartbeat, which was discovered three years ago.

"I don't know what it was but he helped me get into a state that I needed," Eble said. "I needed to run by myself and know that I could personally do it. Everyone else said I could do it, I needed to know I could do it.

"I was scared I wouldn't be able to finish. You're not really scared of it until it happens to you, then you think you don't want to go back there again."