Sharks a toss or two from gaining ground

Published March 16, 2007

The Nature Coast girls struggled last season, and, as opposed to the other athletic programs at the school, the track squads have taken a little longer to grow into contenders. The team finished eighth out of eight teams in the district last season.

Lauren Szudarek, a standout thrower, is trying to change the Sharks' fortunes. Last season she came in second in the district in the discus with a toss of 110 feet, 9 inches in the finals.

She continued to shine during the Pasco Invitational in Dade City. The discus specialist won with a toss of 105 feet, 3/4 inches.

The emphasis for coach Maria Garcia and the rest of the program is to follow the lead of Szudarek and the hard work she puts in to place herself among the area's elite in her event.

EYES ON HARRIS: The early-season progress of Central's DuJuan Harris has been the story on the track scene no matter where you go. Expectations are high for the senior sprinter.

Central coach Eric Milholland's outlook as to how Harris should approach these early competitions is a little different.

"A couple sprinters last season pushed themselves all season and then tried to let up a little bit before districts," he said. "A lot of them got injuries with pulled hamstrings and calf muscles.

"I would prefer that DuJuan just go 100 percent all season."

Despite not having the type of local competition that pushed him last season, Harris is taking his coach's advice. He has taken first place in five individual events - the 100-, 200- and 400-meter sprints, along with the triple and long jumps.

HARTMAN MENTORS SUCCESSOR: Central's top thrower, Jesse Hartman, is the defending district champion in the shot put and discus. The senior's progress in the shot has been right on target. Milholland said Hartman is still getting on track after scratching in his first two meets in the discus, but he should be just as dangerous in that event before the season ends.

The real highlight in the throwing portion of Central's camp is up-and-coming sophomore Tommy Tyson. Hartman has mentored his eventual successor, and because of their close relationship from the football program, the duo has worked well together in practice.

HERNANDO'S DISTANCE RELAY: The four-man squad is set for Hernando's 4x800 relay team. The Leopards' distance program is renowned in the area, and regardless of the two runners chosen to accompany twins Ben and Drew Martucci, the team would be favorites to repeat as state qualifiers.

Hernando coach Ernie Chatman calls it a three-man competition between Chris Martin, Joe Wright and Tyler Champagne. Martin is the favorite to take the third spot on the relay with Wright and Champagne going back and forth for that final position.

"These guys will decide it themselves before the season is over," Chatman said. "Joe and Tyler are so close that we will have a run-off if we need to."

Martin has run a personal best of 2:02 for his leg this season, besting Wright (2:08) and Champagne (2:07). With Drew Martucci still regaining his form after some injuries at the end of cross country season, the squad is just taking form now.