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Gators dethrone the Wildcats

Wesley Chapel's reign of terror in the Sunshine Athletic Conference has ended.

By IZZY GOULD
Published March 30, 2007


NEW PORT RICHEY - Wesley Chapel's reign of terror in the Sunshine Athletic Conference has ended.

The Wildcats' bid for a sixth consecutive SAC title ended Thursday as Land O'Lakes gained crucial points late from its distance runners, pole vaulter and a 4x400 relay to win with 147 points. Wesley Chapel was second with 137 followed by Zephyrhills (94) and Ridgewood (94), Gulf (62), River Ridge (42), Pasco (27.5), Hudson (26), Mitchell (13.5) and Wiregrass Ranch (6).

Gators coach Al Claggett gushed over runners such as Felix Soto and Jake Proudfoot, Matt Schwartz and Tommy Cook, who scored 25 points in the 3,200 meters to take the lead for good. He smiled while recounting Tony White's winning pole vault of 13 feet, a personal best. And he spoke proudly of a new 4x400 relay combination - Jeremy Grunewald, Justin Ellis, Dontarrius Thomas and Jerome Blyden - that ran to a dead heat with Wesley Chapel.

"I just can't say enough about all our kids," Claggett said. "...Last year we lost this track meet by a point and a half. I think the kids were determined not to let that happen again."

Also of note was the performance of Zephyrhills senior Sederrick Cunningham.

The Bulldogs' top sprinter used a disappointing third-place finish in the triple jump (43-00.25) to inspire him to victories in the 100 (10.87) and 200 meters (22.24), and what would have been a come-from-behind final leg in the 4x100 (43.88) had Pasco not been disqualified for a failed handoff in the final turn.