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Pirate clears new heights every day

Pasco's Demetrious Larry has come on strong in the high jump in a short time.

By IZZY GOULD
Published April 27, 2007


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DADE CITY - Demetrious Larry dreams of leaving Dade City one day for college.

He's pretty good at sports and hopes his talent can help give him a boost.

Winning the high jump title Saturday at the Class 2A state final would certainly strengthen the Pasco junior's resume.

Larry has gone from long shot to title contender in less than a month. Now he is eyeing the school record of 7 feet set by Darren Hambrick in the 1990s. He'll save that for next season.

"If I work hard I can get 7," Larry said. "I think I can do it."

First he would like to catch former star Darrell Davis, who cleared 6-8 in his only season in 2006. Larry has defended Pasco's honor, claiming the Sunshine Athletic Conference and district titles with jumps of 6 feet, 2 inches.

Then he had a breakthrough.

Larry soared to a height of 6-6 at the Class 2A, Region 3 meet, finishing second to St. Petersburg Catholic's Jaggar MacDonald. Larry had gone from topping out at 6 feet as a sophomore to clearing 6-6 en route to state.

There was no miraculous offseason conditioning that made a difference. Larry just played a lot of football and basketball.

Larry never had any real high jump instruction. He was clearing 6-0 and 6-2 strictly on natural ability. The only real training he got came this season from Pasco coach Mike Penix, who admits two years ago he knew nothing about the event.

Penix described himself as an "average" athlete when thinking of his Pasco days. But he spent the past two years studying the high jump. He watched instructional videos. And when coaches would bark during meets, Penix would step closer to the coaches who barked loudest, trying to pick up on their pointers.

"He was just natural ability," Penix said. "Now he's doing a lot of things different. He wants it more now."

Larry bought into Penix's instruction and scrapped his whole approach two meets into the season. Instead of simply running and jumping to clear the bar, Larry learned about counting his steps and jumping technique.

"No one taught me until Mike came," Larry said. "I used to just run and jump. I wanted to get to state and try to win."

Now he'll get his chance.

Izzy Gould can be reached at igould@tampabay.com or 727 580-5315.

[Last modified April 26, 2007, 23:51:09]


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