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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.
TITUSVILLE - They had to travel farther than most of the other teams at the Class 2A, Region 2 cross country meet Saturday morning.
But that didn't stop Hernando, Crystal River and Lecanto from sweeping the top three spots in the boys team competition, qualifying them for the state championship next Saturday at Little Everglades Ranch in Dade City.
The top six teams and top 15 individuals from the boys and girls races earned berths in the state meet.
Hernando's Benjamin Martucci took first place in the boys race in 16 minutes, 12.49 seconds. Teammates Joe Wright (16:50.62), Andrew Martucci (16:58.90) and Tyler Baldwin (17:12.15) finished sixth, seventh and 12th, respectively.
Ben Martucci said he expects himself and his team to do nothing short of great things at the state competition.
Crystal River seniors Joseph Greer (16:26.87) and Brennan McNally (17:06.18) took third and ninth places, respectively, helping Crystal River take second.
Greer and McNally, who have been running for Crystal River since they were freshmen, remember when the program struggled to make it past districts.
"It only takes one race," McNally said. "If each of us run our best race, then we can win."
Nick Farrington (17:03.45), a senior from Lecanto, placed eighth overall and led his team to third place.
In the girls race, Leeann Eble, Pasco sophomore, finished fourth in 20:04.32 to qualify for state.
Eble finished the race with high hopes for state, since she was able to pull off fourth place despite feeling ill in the middle of the race Saturday. Danielle Dixon, a Crystal River junior, placed 12th in 20:28.17, also qualifying for state.
Wharton wins boys title
LAKELAND - Felix Soto of Land O'Lakes led the Gators to a second-place finish, winning the boys race in 16 minutes, 56.9 seconds.
Wharton won the boys team title with the help of Baker Burchfield (17:06.75) and Pedro Carela (17:18.20), who finished third and fourth, respectively.
Plant finished fourth, and Chamberlain took sixth. All four teams qualified for the state meet.
Plant's Brigithe Moreno won the girls race in 18:52.48, leading the Panthers to a second-place team finish.
Wharton's girls took third place, Brandon finished fourth, and Gulf grabbed the final state berth in sixth.
Roy Fuoco of the Ledger in Lakeland contributed to this report.
[Last modified November 5, 2006, 02:43:46]
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