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Life on the run

Seven Rivers' Warriors are successful despite having a daily trip to Lecanto to share a track and busy schedules involving other sports.

By KEITH NIEBUHR

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 27, 2001


LECANTO -- At Seven Rivers Christian, track practice is not a hassle, but getting there can be.

Because the school has no track or field, its boys and girls teams practice at nearby Lecanto High School. Some of the athletes drive themselves to practice. Others are picked up at Seven Rivers and driven there by Warriors coach Scott Lyons.

"I've never known having a track, so it's nice going over to Lecanto," said Shawn Allen, a high jumper/long jumper. "It's fun seeing people you probably wouldn't see on a regular basis."

Not having a facility has not hurt the program.

Five Seven Rivers athletes -- senior Bob Adams (discus, shot put), Allen, a junior, sophomore Danielle Albury (high jump) and eighth-graders Rachel Ebert (1,600, 3,200) and Alice Zeiss (discus, shot put) -- will compete in today's Class A, Region 2 meet in Palm Coast, and each has a legitimate chance of reaching state.

"It's a great group of kids," Lyons said.

Lecanto shares more than its field.

Seven Rivers athletes practice side by side with the Panthers, and Lecanto coaches Ron Allan, Freddie Bullock and Lindsey Clark are there to offer helpful hints -- to the Warriors and Lyons. The Seven Rivers coach also has gotten tutelage from Crystal River's Norris Lightsey.

"I give (Lecanto) a lot of credit for helping us out," Lyons said. "They don't have to. We went against them four or five times this year. They're very accommodating, and they do it just because that's the way they are and that's where their heart is.

"Anything you need, you go over there and they give you the information."

Seven Rivers started the season with 11 athletes and a first-year coach in Lyons, who owns and operates Nature Coast Title in Crystal River.

Lyons leaves work every day about 3:30 and drives to Seven Rivers Christian, where he picks up a carload of athletes and carts them off to practice. After the workout, he returns to his job and often stays there well into the night.

Many of the Warriors are equally busy.

Allen, the defending Class A state runner-up in the high jump, and Adams play baseball. Both missed Thursday's track practice to play in the A-4 final in Gainesville.

"I haven't been able to practice much because of baseball," Adams said.

Albury is a three-sport standout who shines in basketball and volleyball. She helped lead the volleyball Warriors to the Class A final four last November.

"They all respect that everybody else is busy and respect the time we spend together," Lyons said. "It's busy, yet we have fun, too."

For Lyons, a thrower in high school, the fun comes in teaching. His knowledge of the discus and shot put has helped Adams and Zeiss show dramatic improvement.

Adams, who began the season launching the shot about 81 feet, was second in the District 7 meet with a performance of 121 feet. He was first in the state discus. Zeiss, a first-year letterwinner, was second in the district in the discus and fourth in the shot.

Working with Albury and Allen, district champions in the high jump, has been more of a chore for Lyons, who calls the event "the most complicated of all." He also spends a good deal of time with Ebert, a distance standout who began the year running the mile in 6:43. Last week, she was third in the district after finishing in 5:52.

"They've been absolutely wonderful," Lyons said.

Class A, Region 2 Track Meet

WHEN: Today, 1 p.m.

WHERE: Flagler-Palm Coast.

ADMISSION: $5.

LOCAL BOYS: Seven Rivers -- Bob Adams (discus, shot put), Shawn Allen (high jump, long jump).

LOCAL GIRLS: Seven Rivers -- Danielle Albury (high jump), Rachel Ebert (1,600, 3,200), Alice Zeiss (discus, shot put).

MOVING ON: The top four place-winners and/or relay teams advance to next week's Florida Finals in Coral Springs. -- KEITH NIEBUHR

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