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Buc star has chance to set state records

Berkeley Prep's Rolf Steier comes into Friday's Class A meet not too far off of the top marks for the 1,600 and 3,200.

By SCOTT PURKS

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 3, 2001


TAMPA -- Niceville's Christopher Wilson won the 1,600 meters at the 1990 state meet in 4 minutes, 11.18 seconds. A few minutes later, Longwood Lyman's Teddy Mitchell won the 3,200 in 9:14.93.

Since then, no one at the state meet has run that fast -- in any classification.

But that could change Friday when Berkeley Prep junior Rolf Steier steps onto the track at Coral Springs High for the Class A state meet.

Steier already has run 4:18.5 in the mile (converted to about 4:17 in the 1,600) and 9:18.29 in the 2-mile. He ran those times without the benefit of many speed workouts, something he has concentrated on more heavily during the past few weeks.

"I definitely feel that I'm prepared," Steier said.

"I think I'm ready to run a (personal best)."

It won't hurt to be competing against Tallahassee Maclay's Ryan Deak, who has run comparable times to Steier this season.

"Having somebody pushing you can really help," said Steier, who beat Deak to win the state cross country title during the fall. "I'm happy that (Deak) will be there."

Could Steier run fast enough to set a state meet record? In meters, yes, because the marks by Wilson and Mitchell came in the first year the state switched to meters as the standard.

Before that, Lake Howell's Ken Cheeseman set the state meet record for the mile with a 4:08.5 in 1983.

St. Petersburg's Brett Hoffman holds the 2-mile mark with a 8:53.1 in 1977. Steier said those times are in the back of his mind. But overall, he is focused only on running a personal best.

Once the 1,600 and 3,200 are finished, Steier still will have a little more work to do.

In the final race of the night, the 4x400 relay, he'll run one of the legs, something he has done in about 52 seconds.

"The difference is that I haven't run the 4x400 after such intense (1,600 and 3,200 races)," he said. "It will be interesting to see how I come back (for the 4x400).

"I do think our 4x400 team (rounded out by Mike Scannon, Tommy Kerr and Drew Heath) does have a chance to score some points."

The county's other top contenders for Class A state titles include Tampa Baptist's Garrett Johnson, who has thrown the discus 175 feet, 11 inches and won the regional title by 27 feet, 51/2 inches. He also has thrown the shot 60-7 and won the regional meet by 10 feet.

On the girls side, Tampa Prep's Renee Jones is a favorite in the 200 and 400, and Tampa Baptist's Marissa Davenport, with a throw of 111-4 at regionals, is a threat to medal.

Track meets

CLASS A-2A STATE MEETS

WHEN: Class A -- Friday. Class 2A -- Saturday. Field events start at 1 p.m. Running event prelims start at 4. Running event finals start at 7.

WHERE: Coral Springs High. LOCAL FAVORITES: Tampa Baptist's Garrett Johnson won the regional discus title by 27 feet, 51/2 inches and the shot put by more than 10 feet. ... Berkeley Prep's Rolf Steier looks to add to his state title collection in the 1,600 and 3,200, which he swept at the regional meet. ... Berkeley Prep's boys 4x400 relay comes in as a regional champion while the girls 4x400 relay finished fourth at regionals. ... Tampa Prep's Renee Jones won the 200 and 400 at regionals, and Marissa Davenport of Tampa Baptist won the discus with a throw of 111 feet, 4 inches. ... Jesuit's Tai Tai Egun won the triple jump at regionals, and teammate Colin Strickland was a regional runner-up in the 3,200.

HOW TO GET THERE: Take Interstate 75 south to I-595 east, toward Coral Springs/West Palm Beach/Fort Lauderdale. Merge onto the Sawgrass Expressway east ramp. Take that to State Road 869 to Exit 8 (Sample Road). Go west on Sample Road for 5 miles. Turn left onto Turtle Run Boulevard and look for the school. The address is 7201 W Sample Road, Coral Springs, 33065.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Call Coral Springs High at (954) 344-3400.

Track meets

CLASS 4A, REGION 2

WHEN: Today.

WHERE: Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer High.

COUNTY TEAMS: Bloomingdale, Wharton, Gaither, Hillsborough, Durant, Sickles.

THE SKINNY: Wharton, which won the district boys title by 98 points, should be the favorite. The Wildcats are well-rounded, led by Dwight Ellick in the sprints, Stuart Carrico in the middle distances and Andrew Fulton in the long distances. The Wharton girls look just as strong, having won their district by 65 points. The Wildcats are led by jumper Kendra Smith, shot putter Derike Folks and pole vaulter Natalie Moser. Hillsborough's girls will be paced by Aminah Bilal, who should qualify for state in the 100 and 200.

* * *

CLASS 3A, REGION 2

WHEN: Today.

WHERE: Kissimmee Poinciana High.

COUNTY TEAM: Plant City.

THE SKINNY: The Raiders will send several boys and girls to compete in individual events.

* * *

CLASS 3A, REGION 3

WHEN: Today.

WHERE: Sarasota Booker High.

COUNTY TEAMS: Armwood, Riverview, East Bay, King, Blake, Chamberlain, Leto, Brandon, Plant, Tampa Bay Tech.

THE SKINNY: Riverview, which won its district by 1481/2 points, should be favored in the girls meet. The Sharks are led by Dee Dee Haefling, the district champ in the 1,600 and 3,200. Right behind Haefling will be East Bay's Lindsey Moffenbier, who seeks a return trip to state. Riverview's boys feature Andrew Culclasure, who won district titles in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200. Armwood is the boys favorite thanks to its strength in the field events, led by Charles Sallet and Keith Watts. -- Compiled by Times Staff.

* * *

CLASS A MEET

WHEN/WHERE: Friday/Coral Springs High.

DIRECTIONS: Take I-75 South to I-595 East, toward Coral Springs/West Palm Beach/Fort Lauderdale. Merge onto the Sawgrass Expressway east ramp. Take that to State Road 869 to Exit 8 (Sample Road). Go west on Sample Road for 5 miles. Turn left onto Turtle Run Boulevard and look for the school. The address is 7201 W Sample Road, Coral Springs, 33065.

ADMISSION: $6.

FORMAT: Field events start at 1 p.m. Running finals start at 7. Trophies will be awarded to the team champion and runner-up in each class. Medallions will be awarded to the top eight individuals and relays.

COUNTY ENTREES: Girls: IRC -- Melissa Kotchman (1,600), Joanna Zammito (800), 4x800. Keswick -- Christa Benton (1,600, 3,200), 4x100. Northside -- Katie Aucremann (discus, shot put), Blair Newcomb (pole vault), Kelly Reynolds (pole vault), 4x100, 4x400. Shorecrest -- Jenny Fraser (400), Jenna Kesty (100 hurdles), 4x100, 4x400, 4x800 team. Boys: Admiral Farragut -- John Biffar (3,200), Charite Brown (400), Adam Butcher (discus, shot put), Andrew Duff (100 hurdles), Michael Hall (pole vault), Andres Kirchman (discus, shot put), 4x400, 4x800. IRC -- Josh Weaver (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles), Mike Wine (200), 4x100. Keswick -- Kirk Hoffmann (shot put), Reed Rudge (high jump, long jump, triple jump). Northside -- Erik Anderson (pole vault), Brandon Hartz (pole vault), Doug Hunter (100 hurdles), 4x100. Shorecrest -- Adam Prawler (400), Justin Stempuzis (100), Jeff Ritch (100, 200), 4x100, 4x400, 4x800.

THE SKINNY: Keswick's Christa Benton is a two-time state champion in the 3,200. To win a third title, she must make up some time. Tallahassee Maclay's Kara Newell has finished in 10 minutes, 58 seconds and is the only girl in the state to run it in under 11 minutes. Benton is starting to catch up, though, evidenced by her 11:11 at regionals last week. The Crusaders also could have a champion on the boys side. Track rookie Reed Rudge won the long jump, triple jump and high jump at regionals. He had the second-best marks of all regional meets last week in the long jump (22-71/4) and high jump (6-4) and the third-best in the triple jump (44-10). Team-wise, Admiral Farragut won districts and regionals thanks to a group effort. But its depth is starting to thin out.

* * *

CLASS 2A MEET

WHEN/WHERE: Friday/Coral Springs High.

ADMISSION/FORMAT: Same as Class A meet.

LOCAL ENTREES: Girls: CCC -- Jessica Hallgreen (200, 400), Apryl Wall (3,200), 4x400, 4x800. Dunedin -- Erin Heeder (800). Osceola -- Kim Conaway (300 hurdles). Tarpon Springs -- Marnisha Hardy (100), Autumn Matthews (100 hurdles), 4x100. Boys: CCC -- Kevin Lyons (3,200). Dixie Hollins -- Kevin Marion (long jump, 100, 200), 4x100. Dunedin -- Ctesius Jackson (shot put), 4x400. SPC -- Tony Cormier (800, 1,600), Mike Craig (3,200), Chris Davis (long jump), Ben Shimko (800), Sam Secord (800), 4x800 relay.

THE SKINNY: Although Dixie Hollins' Kevin Marion lost for the first time in the long jump at regionals last week, his chances for winning a state title were enhanced. Marion jumped 23 feet and scratched on his other attempts. One of his scratches, though, measured 25-8, which would have broken the state record by 6 inches. The Rebels sophomore also is a contender in the 200.

St. Petersburg Catholic has had a strong showing in the post-season, winning districts and placing third at regionals. It was the highest finish the Barons had at regionals and the first time they had individual winners during coach Jeff Ehlert's seven seasons at the school.

Tony Cormier has been the leader. He won the 800 and 1,600 and was part of the winning 4x800 team at districts and regionals.

* * *

CLASS 4A, REGION 3

WHERE: Blum Stadium, Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer High.

SCHEDULE: Today -- Field events and the 4x800 start at 1 p.m. Running preliminaries are at 4, and running finals are at 7.

ADMISSION: $5

DIRECTIONS: From Interstate 95, head south to the Palm Beach Gardens exit. Get off at PGA Boulevard. Turn right onto Military Trail. The school is 21/2 miles on the left. From the Florida Turnpike, exit off PGA Boulevard and take a left onto Military Trail. The school is 21/2 miles on the left. The address is 13601 North Military Trail.

THE SKINNY: Lauren McKinley, a senior at Palm Harbor U. and a winner in the 800 and 1,600 and part of the winning 4x800 team, will have a busy day. A member of the International Bacculaureate program, McKinley has final exams today. Afterward, she'll take a flight to Palm Beach. The only event she won't compete in is the 4x800.

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