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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Zephyrhills' Perkins claims two titles, and the Wesley Chapel boys and girls cruise.
By Joey Knight, Times Staff Writer
Published March 1, 2008
NEW PORT RICHEY - Long before lane assignments were determined for Friday's Chasco Invitational, Josh Perkins had the inside track on disappointment.
The rangy Zephyrhills senior, among three underclassmen on last season's 4x100-meter relay team that reached the Class 2A state meet, was the only one who came out for the team this year. Why his 2007 teammates opted not to run this season remains a mystery even to Perkins.
"I have no clue," he said, shrugging the square shoulders on his lean 6-foot-6 frame.
But instead of regressing, Perkins refocused. Instead of sulking Friday, he served notice.
Primarily a 400 runner last season, the Bulldog won the 100 11.55 seconds and 200 (22.80) in only his second crack at both races in the first major Pasco County meet of the season.
"It's going to be interesting to watch him this year," veteran Bulldogs coach Dave Jones said. "He looks like a man among boys."
Although Perkins' emergence on a chilly night was somewhat of a surprise, the dominance of Wesley Chapel wasn't. The Wildcat girls (177 points) and boys (128.5) won the overall titles in the nine-team event by leaps and bounds, with junior Earon Hicks doing the leaping.
Of the six events won by the Wildcat boys, Hicks won three: long jump (20 feet, 6 inches), triple jump (42-8) and high jump (6 feet).
On the girls side, Wildcats senior Jasmine Pleasant won the 100 (12.56) and 200 (25.46) and anchored the winning 4x100 relay team (52.25). Coach Kristi Frye got victories from triple jumper Shantel Huston (31-51/2), discus thrower Jeani Ducos (113-9) and 110 hurdler Patience Shackley (17.29).
"The nice thing is, I have a balance," Frye said. "I don't have just sprinters or just throwers."
While the Wildcats brandished their depth, Perkins - who had been a Wesley Chapel student - validated his desire to attempt shorter races in his final track season.
"He wanted to move down. And usually when they're a senior, I say, 'Go ahead, let's see what you can do,'" Jones said. "He originally said he wanted to do the 200, and we were out doing time trials, and he ran a good 100. I said, 'This is what you're running.'"
Other multiple winners included Gulf freshman Dani Schulman (girls long jump, 300 hurdles), Ridgewood's Charlie Minichino (discus, shot put) and Land O'Lakes distance specialist Felix Soto (1,600, 3,200).