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Several could win conference

By BOB PUTNAM

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 5, 2001


Lakewood has the speed and jumpers. Largo has the distance runners. Seminole has a little bit of everything. So does Boca Ciega, Dixie Hollins, Gibbs and St. Petersburg.

Put it all together, and there is one big mess when it comes to predicting who will win the boys side of tonight's Pinellas County Athletic Conference meet at Clearwater.

"Usually, you can think of one team that has a pretty good shot at winning," Largo coach Rick Rodriguez said. "But this year, it's wide open, probably more so than I've ever seen it."

Seminole has been the dominant team in the county, winning the conference title the past three years. But others are quick on their heels and have leveled the field.

If there is a favorite, it might be Lakewood.

The Spartans finished second at the Ed Wells/Kiwanis Invitational last week, the highest finish among county teams.

"They probably have the edge right now," Rodriguez said.

FLORIDA RELAYS RECAP: Several county athletes placed in the top four at the Florida Relays last week.

In the Class A/2A competition, Keswick Christian's Reed Rudge won the high jump with a leap of 5 feet, 2 inches. Clearwater Central Catholic's Kevin Lyons finished third in the 1,600, and St. Petersburg Catholic's 4x800 team finished second.

Admiral Farragut's Adam Butcher was fourth in the discus and shot put.

In Class 3A/4A, Lakewood's Dermillo Wise was fifth in the long jump and teammate Martel Mott was third in the 100. The Spartans' 4x100 team was fourth.

DISNEY SHOWCASE: Three county teams -- Clearwater, Seminole and Boca Ciega -- skipped the Florida Relays to compete in the Disney Showcase.

The Pirates fared the best. They were the only county team to have top-four finishers. Roberto Rodriguez won the high jump and took fourth in the triple jump. Wilbur Hunter was second in the shot put.

MIGHTY MARION: The 23 feet, 91/2 inches that Dixie Hollins' Kevin Marion leaped in the long jump at the Richard Allen Relays last month keeps getting more recognition.

The mark stands as the second-best in the nation on fastpreps.com. Actually, the Web site has his jump listed at 23-6, which places him fourth. However, the corrected mark would place him second.

CRAIG SIGNS: Mike Craig, a senior at St. Petersburg Catholic, has committed to North Florida in Jacksonville.

Craig was a district champion and a Times first-team all-county selection in cross country this past season.

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