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Leopards and Sharks try for long postseason runs

By DEREK LARIVIERE
Published April 12, 2007


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The track and field postseason begins this afternoon with many of the area's top athletes aiming for berths in region and state meets. First the programs have to face local tests in the Class 2A, District 9 championships in Tampa.

With graduation right around the corner, senior distance runners Ben and Drew Martucci are beginning their last trek toward state gold. Hernando coach Ernie Chatman has been grooming them for four seasons to walk away knowing they could be the best in something.

The Martucci twins will make up two of the four spots on the 4x800 relay team. Last year, the Leopards distance relay took third at state. Replacing two of the competitors from that squad proved easier than first thought as Joe Wright and Chris Martin quickly became capable complements to Ben and Drew.

Individually, Ben is coming off two seasons where he ranked among the state elite in the distance class. During cross country season, he took second place in two state finals.

Last season, he took fourth in the 1,600 meters and third in the 3,200 at state.

Jesuit, the distance program Hernando runs into at this time of year time and again, will stand in the Leopards' way at districts, regionals and state. Connor Revord, who took second in the 1,600 for Jesuit last season, looks to be Ben Martucci's top competition in the individual events.

Nature Coast boasts a top athlete as freshman Danielle Doucet has emerged as one of the area's top female sprinters. She looks ready to qualify for the region meet this afternoon.

Doucet has crushed her county competition in her first year. With standout times in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter runs, the Sharks sprinter looks to qualify in all three before making a run at state in her first attempt. Doucet has replaced Mike Kursteiner, the graduated state champion in the high jump, as Nature Coast's star on the track.

Doucet should face quite a challenge from Robinson's Rikka Lovely, the sophomore who swept all three sprinting events as a freshman at districts last season.

Fast Facts:

Today's meet

What: Class 2A, District 9 championships

Where: Berkeley Prep, Tampa

Host school: Academy of the Holy Names

The teams: Nature Coast, Hernando, Pasco, Zephyrhills, Berkeley Prep, Academy of the Holy Names (girls), Jesuit (boys), Robinson, Tampa Catholic

When: Today, 1 p.m.

Admission: $5

Outlook: Hernando sprinter George Fribley hopes to join the distance group in regionals, while the Leopards also should qualify Gina Potito in the high jump and long jump. Nature Coast's Lauren Szudarek shined in both the discus and shot put this season.

[Last modified April 11, 2007, 23:45:48]


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