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Packer keeps winning despite slower times


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 8, 2001

For Largo's Danny Bauer, the only frustrating thing about this season is he has not recorded the greatest times.

But Bauer is not complaining. He is having a great time with everything else.

A senior, Bauer has won every race. He completed a rare sweep of the 800-meters, 1,600 and 3,200 in the opening meet at Clearwater. He followed that up the next week by winning the 400 in a tri-meet, an event he decided to compete in for the first time to train for speed.

And at the Osceola Relays last week, he won the 3,200 and ran anchor on the winning 6,400 relay and distance medley relay. He ran 4 miles in the three races and was named MVP of the running events. "I'm having better days this season," Bauer said. "I'm motivated and trying to have the best season that I can."

Bauer's motivation stems from a painful cross country season that was interrupted by tendinitis in his right knee. He sat out a month and finished placing 22nd at the state meet.

"I felt I was kind of gypped," Bauer said. "I don't have any problems now. I should be fine."

Although he has yet to run less than 10 minutes in the 3,200, Bauer's times should improve.

Dave Koehler, the Packers' assistant coach who also coaches cross country, attributes Bauer's slower times to heavy winds at the previous meets. Koehler said his goal for Bauer is to run less than 9 minutes, 40 seconds in the 3,200 by the Sun N' Fun meet March 22.

Bauer has other goals. He said he wants to break 4:20 in the 1,600 and finish in the top five at state in either distance event.

"A top-five finish would be nice," he said. "I'd be happy with that."

HIGH SUCCESS RATE: When Boca Ciega coach Ruben Mayes lost Jimmy Baxter, the state record holder in the high jump (7 feet, 4 inches) and the Times All-County Boys Athlete of the Year, to graduation, he did not fret.

As it turns out, he had a capable replacement.

Roberta Rodriquez, a junior, was named MVP of the field events at the Osceola Relays after helping the Pirates win the high jump with a combined leap of 21 feet. Tuesday, he jumped 6-8 against Lakewood.

"He's a good athlete," Mayes said. "I mean, he jumped 6-8. You've got to love that."

GOOD EXCUSE: Gibbs coach Anthony Givens had an explanation for why the Gladiators finished last in a tri-meet last week.

The night of the meet coincided with a play celebrating Black History Month performed by the juniors and seniors. Most of the upperclassmen tried to do both. But it became difficult, so Givens told them to forget about it.

"I said, 'We'll take this one on the chin,"' he said.

A bigger blow came with the loss of Corey Austin, who transferred to Dixie Hollins after disciplinary problems.

"I'm not too worried about things," Givens said. "We'll be okay."

A big test for Gibbs comes Tuesday when it faces Lakewood.

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