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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.
DADE CITY - Leeann Eble collapsed among the many bodies sprawled throughout the finishing chute at Little Everglades Ranch as her coach sat by her side.
A demanding finishing hill and rising temperatures Saturday sucked the spirit out of the state's best high school runners.
Pasco's sophomore was also battling an arrhythmia, which she believes caused her dizziness as it has in other races. She fought it off, managed a strong finish and improved upon her performance from a year ago.
Eble earned the highest finish among North Suncoast girls, finishing 26th (20 minutes, 49 seconds) in the Class 2A meet. Crystal River junior Danielle Dixon was 51st (21:29).
This was Eble's final race before undergoing procedure called catheter ablation to fix her heart.
"I didn't feel good at all, I just ran," Eble said. "You can't really have a strategy because there's so many hills and it's so hot."
Dixon also struggled with the hills and heat.
"I had some leg problems earlier, and I thought I could handle it," Dixon said. "I went out a little too quick, and I choked."
In Class 3A, Gulf finished 18th out of the 24 teams at the state meet, proudly returning the Buccaneers to prominence. Bucs freshman Brittnie Bennett, who finished 43rd (21:35) just steps behind teammate Jaci Pustelnik (37th, 21:31), did the talking.
"We are so happy with what we accomplished because nobody thought we'd go to states," Bennett said. "Wesley Chapel beat us in conference, but we beat them in district, regionals, and we're in states.
"Next year at conference, we're going to take the title back without a doubt."
Wesley Chapel's lone representative was junior Kirsten Fee, who finished 35th (21:15).
"It was definitely a hard race," Fee said. "I think (21:15) is good for this course. It's better than my other times that I've had here."