Keeping track of it all
By DEREK LARIVIERE
Published February 23, 2007
Five things you need to know
1. The Land O'Lakes boys ended a five-year streak of District 3A-7 titles for Wesley Chapel last season. The Gators again look like the team to beat.
2. Wesley Chapel's girls (3A-7) and Zephyrhills' girls (2A-9) are defending district champions and do not look to have lost much for this season's run.
3. Wiregrass Ranch and Bishop McLaughlin are still at the beginning stages of building programs.
4. The Sunshine Athletic Conference meet will be hosted by River Ridge on March 29.
5. District tournaments start April 9 for classes A and 2A and April 16 for classes 3A and 4A. Region tournaments will begin April 19 for A and 2A and April 26 for 3A and 4A. The state tournament begins April 27. The sites for all of these events are to be announced by the FHSAA.
Preseason super seven
Andrew Smith, Zephyrhills
Coming off a season where he finished ninth in the state in the shotput, Smith is looking for a repeat berth at state for his senior season. His experience will make him an invaluable leader.
Emily Seda, Land O'Lakes
As the anchor on last season's state qualifying 4x400-meter relay squad, Seda will be counted on as a go-to star for the Gators. The junior has the potential to lead her team to conference and district crowns.
Beth Butler, Ridgewood
After finishing 14th in the long jump at state in 2006, Butler, now a junior, is poised to better that mark this year. Her jump of 4 feet, 10 inches put her just behind a cluster of five girls to finish in ninth with a jump of 5 feet.
Kirsten Fee, Wesley Chapel
Fee was a member of the state qualifying 4x800 relay team that finished 15th in the state in 10:40.25. The big surprise may be what she does individually. The Wildcats junior had a superb season in cross country (35th in 3A), and is looking to make her mark in the distance event.
Leeann Eble, Pasco
As with some of the others on this list, Eble made a name for herself during cross country season. Her performance landed her 26th overall in Class 2A this season. If she can translate that to the track, the results could be exciting.
Felix Soto, Land O'Lakes
His 22nd-place finish in the Class 3A cross country state meet cements the sophomore's place among the favorites for track. His distance running should keep the Gators as strong as ever in those events.
Sederrik Cunningham, zephyrhills
After qualifying for state as both a freshman and sophomore, Cunningham narrowly missed the cut last season. Now in his final prep season, the Bulldogs' top sprinter will be looking to return to the ultimate stage.
Keep an eye on Jerome Blyden, Land O'Lakes
Cannelios Ansley, Zephyrhills
Desiree Vizcaino, Wesley Chapel
Shelby Deloach, Wesley Chapel
Savannah Hancock, Pasco
Jake Proudfoot, Land O'Lakes
Shawn Williamson, Gulf
Sarah Saveda, Land O'Lakes
Steven Landreth, Ridgewood
Tommy Cook, Land O'Lakes
Jaci Pustelnik, Gulf
Brittnie Bennett, Gulf
Jasmine Pleasant, Wesley Chapel
Patience Shackley, Wesley Chapel
Allison Ramirez, Zephyrhills
Britney Wilt, Zephyrhills
Kristen Vollmer, Zephyrhills
Ashley Anderton, Zephyrhills
Class 4A, District 5:
Mitchell, Alonso, Countryside, East Lake, Largo, Palm Harbor University, Pinellas Park, St. Petersburg, Sickles.
Class 3A, District 7:
Gulf, Hudson, Land O'Lakes, River Ridge, Ridgewood, Wesley Chapel, Springstead, Central.
Class 2A, District 7:
Wiregrass Ranch, Atlantic, Crescent City, Eustis, Matanzas, Mount Dora, Tavares, Umatilla, the Villages, Wildwood.
Class 2A, District 9:
Pasco, Zephyrhills, Nature Coast, Hernando, Berkeley Prep, Academy of the Holy Names (girls), Jesuit (boys), Robinson, Tampa Catholic.
Class A, District 9:
Bishop McLaughlin, Bayshore Christian, Calvary Christian, Cambridge, Indian Rock Christian, Northside Christian, Seven Rivers Christian, Tampa Baptist, Tampa Prep.
The skinny: Brittnie Bennett, Miranda Wright and Jaci Pustelnik lead the girls in the distance events. If the Buccaneers are to compete with some of the top programs in the county, they will have to place high in those events. The boys are stronger in the short distance sprints. Shawn Williamson could be a star for the team before long.
The skinny: While not having as many stars as some of the other county programs, the Cobras could prove to be more competitive this season thanks to their depth. Jake McFadden has the potential to be among the best in the long jump. He may also excel in the sprinting events. The girls are armed with Heather Paone in the hurdle events and pole vault.
The skinny: Coming off one of the best seasons in history, Land O'Lakes is looking to repeat with the boys. Julius Philpot, one of the top athletes in the district, graduated. Jake Proudfoot and Felix Soto, two of the top distance runners in the area, and Tommy Cook are returning for the Gators. Emily Seda, one of the program's top sprinters, should be a spark plug for the girls.
The skinny: The Mustang boys and girls do not seem to be armed with any top sprinters this season, but for what they lack there, the teams could make up for in distance and field athletes. Sheer numbers could allow Mitchell to be competitive in the conference. Jen Watts and Madeline Wagner head up the girls distance lineup, while Scott Ruth, Adam Walker, Zach Walker and Angelo Brening are all distance threats for the boys.
The skinny: As far as teams go, the Pirates lack the necessary depth to go far, but individually, the program could have a repeat of last season, when it qualified five for state. Underclassmen Tanaesha Ranson, Savannah Hancock and Amber Ranson return from the girls 4x100 relay team that qualified. The boys return no qualifiers, but Demetrious Larry and Marcus Tookes will be threats in the sprint events.
The skinny: Leading the girls is state qualifier Beth Butler (high jump). The junior leads a strong influx of youth for the Rams. For the boys, coach Brian Wachtel expects his team to be competitive thanks a great deal of depth from athletes such as Charley Minichino (throws), Brian Ecker and Michael Kern (middle distances), and Clay Hovenga (hurdles).
The skinny: Nick Bulgrin, the team's only state qualifier last season, graduated, leaving a major hole in the throwing events for the Royal Knights. Darrell Grady and Brian Lewandowski, both sprinters, have been working with coach J.R. Halworth. Both could be heavy threats before long. The girls are also young. Julie Lewandowski seems to be the squad's top sprinter.
The skinny: Boys coach Brian Colding is looking to recapture the success the Wildcats had built before last season. Both the boys and girls have enough athletes to fill more than two rosters. Much of the girls 4x800 relay team that qualified for state last season returns, including Shelby DeLoach, Kirsten Fee and Desiree Vizcaino. Fee also qualified in the 3,200.
The skinny: As with many of the other athletic programs for Wiregrass Ranch, the team should spend much of the season finding its identity and talent pool. Currently, the program seems to have good amount of competitors for both the girls and boys squads. The coaches seem unsure of where the Bulls can excel.
The skinny: The best track athlete in a long time to grace the Bulldogs track has graduated, and with Bryan Thomas has gone female stars Marta Heidenreich and Kristin Donahue. Even with those losses, the Bulldogs have senior leadership, depth and talent. The boys may repeat as district runnerups to Jesuit.
The skinny: Coach Dave Parrish is heading up both the boys and girls programs. The girls squad is undermanned with a roster barely in the double figures. The boys side has a little more depth, but inexperience is the main concern for all the athletes. Most of the Hurricanes team is made of up underclassmen.
Compiled by Times correspondent Derek LaRiviere.
[Last modified February 22, 2007, 23:26:22]
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