By BOB PUTNAM
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 6, 2001
CLEARWATER -- A late afternoon shower delayed the start of the Pinellas County Athletic Conference running finals for 15 minutes.
Afterward, it was the reign of the Seminole boys and Lakewood girls that fell hard.
Neither team could three-peat as conference champions. To find the new champs, all one had to do was flip-flop the schools. Lakewood won the boys title with 107 points. Seminole won the girls title with 123 points.
Both teams dethroned the former champions despite numerous injuries.
"We've had about every one on our team with a pulled quad or hamstring or shin splints," first-year Spartans boys coach Sabrina Herring-Kelly said.
Nevertheless, Lakewood pulled through thanks to the performances of two of its stars, Dermillo Wise and Martel Mott.
Wise won the triple jump, the 110 and 300 hurdles and took second in the long jump. Mott was second in the 200 and third in the 100. Both also were part of the winning 4x100 team.
On the girls side, the Warhawks had it worse with injuries. They already had lost top hurdler Lauren Hatfield, who broke her leg during cheerleading practice two weeks ago. Thursday, Ashley Elliott turned her ankle during the long jump.
Because Elliott's injury happened so recently, she scored points in only one event and was lost for four others she likely would have scored in. That concerned girls coach John Bordeaux, who said he didn't know if his team had enough to hold off Lakewood's small but potent lineup.
Seminole's depth turned out to be the key. Although the Warhawks won just one event (Rachel Paroulek won the shot put), they scored in every event to distance themselves from the Spartans (123-105).
For Lakewood, Nadia Covington won the long jump, Sharneka Brown won the triple jump and the 100 and 4x400 team took first.
But with only 10 athletes competing, the Spartans needed everything and didn't get it. Their 4x100 relay, a favorite to win, was disqualified during the preliminary heats after one of its runners switched lanes.
Still, the point differential would not have made up enough ground.
"I think everything balanced itself out," Bordeaux said. "We lost Ashley, which would have given us some points, and (Lakewood) had their relay team disqualified.
"For all the injuries we've had, this was nice to win and a long time coming."