By FRANK PASTOR
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 7, 2001
TAMPA -- After losing to Jesuit by just three points earlier this season, St. Petersburg Catholic coach Jeff Ehlert expected his team to be in a dogfight with the Tigers for the Catholic Invitational boys title.
What he didn't know was that the MVP race would be even tighter.
St. Petersburg Catholic's Chris Davis and Matt Murdock dueled for top honors, as the Barons finished 32 points behind Jesuit on Friday at Corral Stadium. Lourdes easily won the girls competition, outdistancing Bishop Moore by 61 points.
Davis was named MVP after winning the long jump (22 feet, 91/2 inches) and placing second in the triple jump and 400 meters. Murdock won the 200 (22.8 seconds) and 400 (51.1).
The two also combined with Sam Secord and Mike Ross on the winning 1,600 relay team (3:33.40).
"It was tough choosing between Chris and Matt," Ehlert said.
St. Petersburg Catholic, which won last year's boys meet, finished among the top five teams for only the second time in Ehlert's seven seasons.
Besides Davis and Murdock, Tony Cormier (1,600), Larry Woods (100) and Mike Heretick (high jump) also won individual events.
Meanwhile, Ben Shimko, Secord, Andrew Hicks and Cormier ran a personal-best 8:13.98 in the 3,200 relay while finishing second.
Jessica Hallgren (girls 400, long jump) and Kevin Lyons (boys 3,200) of Clearwater Central Catholic were Pinellas County's other individual winners.
Hallgren's long jump of 6-2 was 3 inches longer than her personal best.
"My expectations were high," she said, "but I didn't expect to place first."