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Wharton and Gaither teams hold their own in March track meets

The Wildcats place third among top boys squads in the state, and the Cowboy girls win a relay.


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 25, 2001

TAMPA -- With the track season in full swing, Wharton's boys and Gaither's girls continue to impress. By virtue of solid recent performances, their quality outings in March could lead to impressive finishes in May.

Wharton proved it isn't just the class of Hillsborough County among boys' squads this year. At the Bob Hayes Invitational on March 18 in Jacksonville, the Wildcats placed third overall among some of the state's top teams. At an event that featured more than 100 schools and 700 athletes, Wharton's Dwight Ellick, Stuart Carrico and Alex Harris stood out.

Ellick, a New York sprint champion last season who has transferred to Wharton, won the 200-meter dash in 21.47 seconds. Carrico ran a personal best of 1:57.80 to win the 800-meter event, and Harris was the high jump runner up (6-foot-6 jump) and the triple jump runner up (44-foot-8 jump). Andrew Fulton placed in the top eight in the 3,200-meter run with a personal best of 10 minutes, 3 seconds, and the 3,200-meter relay team of Carrico, his brother Steve, Fulton and Brett Galbraith placed fifth.

The Gaither girls were equally outstanding March 11 during the Manuel Griffin Relays at Hillsborough High School. The win was sweet for the Cowboys, who won the Griffin Relays by a 59-58 margin against Riverview, after a disappointing finish the week before. At the Nash Higgins relays March 4, Gaither suffered a half-point loss to winner Riverview, which made the Griffin Relays title even more rewarding.

The Cowboys won two events in claiming the championship but had solid performances throughout the event. Junior Dara Altman won the pole vault with a 10 feet mark. In the 2-mile event, Jenny Habbestad led the Cowboys to the win with a 10 minutes, 21 second run. The Cowboy girls were second in two other events (shuttle hurdle relays and shot put) and third in the discus.

There were no meets last week due to spring break. All the county schools will return to action with the Western Conference Divisional Meets on April 6.

BASEBALL: Several former North of Tampa area prep standouts are making their mark at the collegiate level this season. USF sophomore and four-year Gaither player Mike Macaluso has made the most of his extended playing time this season. Playing second base and shortstop, Macaluso has started eight games this season while seeing action in a total of 17. He is hitting .250 with a fielding average of .902. Macaluso went 1-for-4 with a run scored in USF's 7-2 win against Northwestern March 21.

Two of his USF teammates also are seeing extensive action.

Former Wharton standout Joey Livingston and Leto ace Jon Uhl are regulars in the USF pitching rotation. Both freshmen, Livingston is 1-0 in 14 appearances with a 5.45 ERA and 15 strikeouts. Uhl has a 1-3 mark as a starter and 21 strikeouts in 20 innings of work.

But the best collegiate season thus far among former local prep standouts belongs to Casey McKenzie. A former Sickles pitcher and first baseman, McKenzie is now a freshman starting pitcher with the University of Tampa. McKenzie is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA. He was named the Sunshine State Conference Pitcher of the Week for the week of March 12. On the year, McKenzie has allowed 18 hits in 20 innings and has 18 strikeouts.

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