By JAMAL THALJI
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 3, 2001
NEW PORT RICHEY -- The Chasco Invitational is the North Suncoast's early-season barometer. Friday's 26th annual meet at Gulf provided that and so much more.
Ridgewood's girls again dominated. Lake City Columbia's boys unseated four-time defending champion Ridgewood.
Both River Ridge teams finished second, led by strong performances from John Gilmore and Jessica Verga. The Springstead boys, meanwhile, jogged to fifth while missing several stars. "Depth and strength is what won it for us," Rams girls coach Sue Vien said. "I credit our kids for their tenacity and perseverance."
Perseverance against boredom, that is, because Ridgewood nearly lapped the field, scoring 220 points to River Ridge's 1101/2 and winning 11 events.
The Rams were led by Jessica Penokie's three first-place ribbons, in the pole vault (8 feet, 6 inches), 100-meter high hurdles (16.43 seconds) and 300 hurdles (60.07). Returning state champion Shawna Luikart won the high jump (5-2), Nancy Edwards the triple jump (34-81/2), Jen Hayes the long jump (15-5), Margarita Salas the 200 (27.45) and Lizzy Leigh the 800 (2:34.67) and the 1,600 (5:37).
Verga won the 100 (13.15), took second in the triple jump (323/4), the 200 (27.60) and 400 (1:02.04) and third in the high jump (4-10). Teammate Emily Ollivier won the discus (98-91/2) and the shot put (30).
Gilmore returned as Pasco County's fastest man and kept the title out of reach with a 10.72 in the 100, besting his previous school record. He also won the 200 (22.30). Teammate Rick Eagly won the 400 (52.55), Adam Eberle won the shot put (46-11/2), and Mike Brock won the pole vault (11-6).
Ridgewood's James Vitale won the 800 (1:58.90) and 1,600, Chris Vergnaud the 300 hurdles (41.93) and Joe Anders the triple jump (40-31/2).
Springstead's Matt Fisher won the discus (129-7) and Clinton Pierce the 100 hurdles (15.17). Central's 4x800 team of Joe Costanzo, Adam Dixon, Joel Crandall and Trevor Scales also won. (8:38).
Gulf's 4x100 team of Courtney Burns, Climmie Collins, Michelle Sigona and Anna Szwejkowska won in 52.64.