The Buzz

Published March 27, 2007

Up for debate

The Sunshine Athletic Conference held qualifying track and field meets last week at Ridgewood and Wesley Chapel to prepare for Thursday's championships and likely will address making the qualifiers permanent, making alterations or scrapping them at the beginning of next season.

The concept - the top eight qualifiers from the west side and the top eight from the east both advance to the SAC finals Thursday at River Ridge - originated with the thought of making the meet quicker and more competitive.

In the past, teams could put three athletes in every event, meaning as many as 30 athletes running heats. That typically turned the track meet into a marathon.

Now the 16 competitors in each event will split into the top eight times in a fast heat, and the other eight in a slow heat, but all 16 eligible for first place.

"Honestly, we just have to see how this all works out," longtime Ridgewood girls coach Sue Vien said. "It might be that we like how the results turn out and it works the fairest. Or maybe it's not. But at the beginning of the season, we all got together and said wouldn't it be good if we had to qualify for the SAC."

Wesley Chapel boys coach Brian Colding likes the concept, though he would like to see standards set that automatically eliminate those who don't reach certain benchmarks in events.

"We're still working out the kinks; the jury is out," he said. "I think there still needs to be a qualifier, but we also need a standard. We'll keep looking to make it perfect."

Top boys performers from the qualifiers: Wesley Chapel's Vince Chalecki broke his school record in the shot put with a toss of 48 feet, 9.5 inches; Ridgewood's Charlie Minichino set a season's beat with a discus throw of 151 feet, 4.25 inches; Gulf's Shawn Williamson clocked a season-best 10.84 seconds in the 100; Zephyrhills' Sederrik Cunningham won the 100, 200 and triple jump; the Zephyrhills boys swept the 4x100, 4x400 and 4x800 relays.

Top girls performers from the qualifiers: Wesley Chapel's Jeanni Duco continued her season-long dominance in the discus and shot put, winning both at the east side meet; Ridgewood's Dalia Madison's long jump was more than foot better than her nearest competitor at either qualifier; Ridgewood's Beth Butler won the high jump in 5 feet, 2 inches, the best overall mark; Patience Shackley of Wesley Chapel won both hurdles events and the high jump at the east meet; the Wesley Chapel girls won every individual event but two.

On the Brink

Ridgewood's Keari Brink, below, who has the seventh-best pole vault in the state according to the Orlando Sentinel, which publishes a state-wide honor roll, is injured and won't return until districts, according to Vien.

Brink, who sustained a stress fracture in her right foot during soccer season and reaggravated the injury while vaulting at the Fast Times Invitational two weeks ago, is expected to have her cast taken off three days before districts.

Brink has vaulted 10 feet this season. The Sentinel lists the leader (Daisy Glasser of Jacksonville Episcopal, with a 12-9), five chasers, then a Sweet 16, of which Brink is part of.

John C. Cotey can be reached at johncotey@gmail com or (727) 869-6261.