tampabay.com

Maier leads Hernando to 11th-place finish

The Leopards' star finishes fifth in the Prime Time race at the Southern Stars Invitational.

By JOE SMITH
Published September 30, 2007


TAMPA - A year ago, Tyler Maier was a cross-country novice.

The Hernando High senior just showed up at practice to give the sport a shot.

"I ran (29 minutes, 28 seconds)," Maier said. "I was fifth man on (junior varsity) most of the year."

Boy, how times - including Maier's 5K clip - have changed.

Competing in the Prime Time race at the prestigious Southern Stars mega meet at Ed Radice, Maier finish fifth at 16:48, just ahead of teammate Joe Wright (11th, 17:08) to lead the Leopards to an 11th-place finish Saturday night.

Maier credits a strong summer, one in which he trained daily with former Leopards star twins Ben and Andrew Martucci.

"I felt amazing tonight," Maier said. "Joe paced me all the way. The last race, I went out to quick and died at the end. This time, I had a lot of energy."

So did the action-packed night meet, which included a Stars boys race pitting 10 runners who have broken the 16:20 barrier this year; the girls Stars race featured 12 of the top 20 teams in the state - regardless of affiliation.

Both lived up to the hype. With fireworks lighting the sky, the Jesuit boys won the Stars race in dramatic fashion, breaking a 158-158 tie with Bishop Kenny by their total time (the Tigers were 15 seconds faster). Tigers junior Connor Revord took second in 15:38 behind undefeated individual champion Joe Franklin of Godby High (15:27).

The girls race was over nearly when it started. That's because Wellington's Ashley Brasovan, ranked No.2 in the nation, whipped the talented field with a 16:43 (35 seconds faster than runnerup). The Wesley Chapel girls took fifth in the Big Dipper race.

There were two local standouts sitting out. Land O'Lakes senior Felix Soto said he bruised his left thigh in a soccer match Sunday, and Ridgewood senior Steve Landreth is nursing a hip injury. Both said they hope to compete in Saturday's Flrunners.com Invitational.

"I really, really wanted to run," Soto said. "But I just couldn't do it. It was killing me."