tampabay.com

Sprinter Kidd always improving

By NANCY MORGAN
Published March 25, 2007


Ashlee Kidd St. Petersburg may be completing her final year at Georgia Tech, but the sprint specialist says she plans to continue racing.

"I feel I'm getting stronger and more powerful and see myself doing better," said Kidd, 21. "I'm always motivated because I'm competitive. I believe there's still room for improvement and so much more to do. A lot of my improvement I attribute to my sprints coach and our strength and conditioning coach."

Last month, Kidd competed in her final collegiate indoor season defending her Atlantic Coast Conference titles in the 200- and 400-meter dash events and repeating as MVP of the conference championships.

At this month's NCAA Indoor Championships, a third-place finish in the 400 meters with a personal- and school-best time of 51.96 resulted in All-America selection, her seventh.

"I don't think we've seen the best of Ashlee yet," said Audrey Dempsey-Branch, second-year sprints coach for the Jackets. "She will continue to grow and learn. I have no doubt whatsoever we've yet to see her best."

Since her freshman year in 2003, Kidd has consistently garnered honors in the indoor and outdoor seasons.

"I really didn't expect such success, although I knew I was a decent runner," Kidd said. "In high school, I thought I was fourth or fifth in the area. I wasn't really heavily recruited, but when I dropped four seconds from my time as a senior in high school to my freshman year in college, I knew I could continue to improve."

As a college freshman, Kidd won the 400-meter U.S. Junior Nationals in the 400-meter dash to qualify for the IAAF World Junior Championships and finished third. The ACC named her rookie of the year in both the indoor and outdoor seasons.

Her sophomore year included All-America recognition in the 400-meter and 4x100-meter relay, followed by another All-America selection in the 400 dash her junior season. A trip to Italy for the NACAC Under-23 Championships resulted in a gold medal for the U.S. in the 4x400-meter relay.

For Kidd and her teammates who advanced to national competition in the indoor this month, there was little time to wind down before the outdoor season began.

"I prefer the outdoor season because I like to run outdoors," Kidd said. "Because of the weather, you get warmer and when I get hot, I run faster times."

This summer, Kidd hopes to run in some international races, including the Pan American Games in Brazil, and then will focus on the 400-meter dash in the Olympic trials.

BASKETBALL: Eastern Kentucky senior starting guard Julian Mascoll (Countryside) was third on the team in scoring with 11.1 points per game. Against No. 1 North Carolina in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, Mascoll scored 12 in an 86-65 loss.

- Florida freshman Marreese Speights (Gibbs/Admiral Farragut/Hargrove Military Academy) posted a career-high 16 points in the Gators' 112-69 win over Jackson State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

- Embry-Riddle senior center Nick Miller (Clearwater) posted 23 points, nine rebounds and two blocks to advance the Eagles to the conference championship. In a 61-59 title loss to Florida Memorial, Miller connected for 18 points, pulled down six rebounds and was named to the all-tournament team.

- Flagler freshman Jalisa Foster (Pinellas Park) scored a season-high 13, recorded eight rebounds and five steals in a 75-72 consolation win over Johnson and Wales University of North Miami in the Division II National Independent Tournament.

SOFTBALL: Dani Hofer (Palm Harbor University) earned a second SEC pitcher of the week honors after allowing no runs in 16 innings in two games against Ole Miss. The sophomore has seven complete game shutouts with 113 strikeouts in 71 innings to earn a 1.18 ERA and an 11-1 record for LSU.

- Starting outfielder Kallan Casey (Countryside/St. Petersburg College) is hitting .237 for Tampa.

- Samantha Becker of Clearwater (Cambridge HS) is a utility player for Tampa. The junior is averaging .284 and leads the team in home runs (4), slugging percentage (.505), RBIs (23) and doubles (9).

- Maggie Allen (Gibbs) is a freshman catcher for Seminole CC and averaging .258 at the plate.

DIVING: Austin Hampton (Admiral Farragut) claimed All-ACC honors after earning third place on the 1-meter. At the NCAA Zone B Diving Championships, the sophomore was 20th on the 1-meter, 18th on the 3-meter and 19th on platform.

BASEBALL: Case Western Reserve junior leadoff hitter Marshall Hampton (Admiral Farragut) is averaging .250 through the first eight games. Last year, the catcher led the team in hits and was second in steals.

SWIMMING: Jessie Bardin (Northeast) was the 16th swimmer in Tampa's history to collect a women's individual national championship. The freshman won the 200 freestyle in 1:50.92.

- Sophomore Erica Smith of Largo (Henry B. Plant) swam a lifetime-best 24.62 in the 50 freestyle for North Carolina State in the ACC championships.

GYMNASTICS: Junior Colin Christ (East Lake) was 10th all-around for the California Bears in the Pacific Coast Classic. Christ scored a season-high 9.4 on high bar.

FOOTBALL: Leon Wright (Northeast) returned kickoffs and punts for Duke this season. The longest kickoff return was 27 yards against Virginia Tech and the longest punt return was 22 yards against Alabama. The freshman totaled 207 all-purpose yards and played in 11 of 12 games.

CROSS COUNTRY: Kerry Allen (St. Petersburg) was a freshman runner for No. 14 Duke.

News for this column may be faxed to Nancy Morgan, 445-4119; e-mailed to namorgan@tampabay.rr.com or sent to 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. Please include phone number.