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Harris rises to the challenge, strikes region gold three times

Central senior DuJuan "Foxx" Harris has spent all season waiting for a meet in which he might be tested.

By JOHN C. COTEY AND DAVID MURPHY
Published April 28, 2007


Central senior DuJuan "Foxx" Harris has spent all season waiting for a meet in which he might be tested.

At the Class 3A, Region 2 meet in Titusville on Thursday, he got that test.

And, not surprisingly, he passed.

Facing his strongest competition all season, Harris won three events and placed second in another, becoming what is believed to be the first athlete in modern Hernando County history to win three individual region titles.

"Foxx always seems to rise, " Central coach Eric Milholland said. "Whenever there is competition, he seems to rise a little higher."

After placing second in the triple jump, Milholland said he thought Harris used his disappointment to fuel blazing performances in the 100 and the 200 meters, running a 10.75 in the finals of the former and a personal-best 22.03 in the prelims of the latter. His winning long jump was 22 feet, 9.75 inches.

Harris' effort reminded some of John Capel, who as a junior won the 100 and 200 in 1997 at the region meet, in much better times than Harris. But Capel, who later raced at the Olympics, anchored a second-place 4x100 team and did not win any other events. His senior year, Capel injured his hamstring at districts and did not compete at regionals.

That same year, Ridgewood's Char Foster won three individual events at a region meet (110 and 330 hurdles, 200 meters).

Pasco's Darren Hambrick was the last North Suncoast track athlete to win four individual events when he took the discus and triple, high and long jumps in 1993 (he also was third in the shot put, back when athletes were allowed to enter five events; they are now limited to four).

Harris wasn't the only region champ produced by the North Suncoast - Ridgewood's Ashley Haggard won the pole vault with a leap of 9 feet, 6 inches, and Land O'Lakes' Felix Soto won the 3, 200 in 10:02.21.

"Ashley was so happy to win, " Ridgewood coach Sue Vien said. "It was great. And it was tough out there. That wasn't near her personal best (10-6), but it was really, really, really windy."

Soto and teammate Jake Proudfoot each passed on the 1, 600 meters so they could concentrate on qualifying in the 3, 200, a move that paid off as Proudfoot finished fourth.

Land O'Lakes also qualified its girls 4x400 relay team and Emily Seda (400), while the boys moved Dontarrius Thomas (long jump) and Tony White (pole vault) through; Wesley Chapel qualified its boys and girls 4x100 relay teams, Renee Vaughns (400), Patience Shackley (high jump, 110 hurdles), Arisa Bush (discus) and Jasmine Pleasant (100 and 200).

Ridgewood's Michael Kern (800) will be joined at state by girls Dalia Madison (triple and long jump), Meaghan Seltman (discus) and Beth Butler (high jump).

Class A

WINTER PARK - It's not easy being a shot putter. Not easy being a minor act in which sprinters, middle-distance runners and hurdlers remain the principle attractions. Not easy finally getting the chance to perform in the state spotlight and watching the medals go elsewhere

Bishop McLaughlin's Mike Thurman, who became the first athlete from his school to compete at a state meet, did not do as well as in previous meets. The sophomore failed to make it out of the preliminaries Friday, finishing 16th overall with a throw of 36 feet, 91/2 inches.

Bob Putnam, Times staff writer