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Gator hurdler preaches patience

Godfrey Pestana sometimes has a hard time slowing down. However, he hopes to be quick enough today to earn a berth at the state meet.

By JAMAL THALJI

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2000


LAND O'LAKES -- Godfrey Pestana is always in a hurry. To run. To compete. To win.

Impatience is as much a part of his makeup as his speed, his power, his endurance. The junior has been that way throughout his stellar athletic career at Land O'Lakes; impatient with himself and others.

As a running back on last season's Sunshine Athletic Conference championship team, Pestana couldn't wait to hit the holes and head up field.

He has been just as impatient to win as a reserve on the varsity basketball squad and a standout on the track and field team.

Sometimes, though, Pestana has to keep telling himself: Slow down.

He can get to the finish line just as fast, he tells himself, if he bides his time.

At today's Class 3A, Region 3 meet at Clearwater's Jack White Stadium, Pestana will compete in the 110-meter high hurdles. The top-four finishers earn a berth in the Class 3A state meet at Percy Beard Stadium in Gainesville on May 13.

After nursing a groin pull that lingered after basketball season, Pestana hopes he has timed his performance just right to peak today and earn his first trip to state.

Patience with himself and others, he now believes, will get him to where he wants to be just as fast.

"There are times I've been impatient," Pestana said. "I've been trying to be patient with myself and other people. That's a big issue. I've learned to deal with myself saying, "Let's go. Let's go. I want to do this. I want to win.'

"But you've got to understand maybe there aren't people at the same level you're on. There are times when I keep my mouth shut. There are times when I push myself, especially during practice, but I know that's for the best for me, not the worst. When I feel myself pushing myself too far, I say to myself, "It's not the right time. Slow up.'

"Then there are days when I go out there that I want to be first in everything and work my butt off and take care of business during practice."

Balancing his competitiveness, learning not to rush or injure himself, has made Pestana a better hurdler because he already possesses the innate physical talent to excel at the event.

"Godfrey is extremely quick," said coach Allen Claggett, who as an assistant football coach also has seen the same talents serve Pestana well on the football field.

"He's quick. He has the ability to use his muscles and do the things that hurdlers do well. He has good speed. He has good body control, so it enables him to do what we call hip circles, where you pull the trail leg through. And he does a good job of body control in those areas. So he does very well at hurdling.

"He hasn't reached his potential yet. I don't think he's even gotten close. He's getting close, but I don't believe he's reached his peak in the high hurdles yet this season."

Today would be the day to do it.

Pestana ran a 15.39 to finish second to Springstead's stellar Alton Hughes at the Class 3A, District 9 meet. Pestana's best time this season is 15.37.

Pestana also qualified for state along with the 4x800 relay team of Chris Clarke, Scott Habershaw and Brad Winterroth, taking third at districts with a time of 8:43.5. But the hurdles is his best event.

"(Today), the competition is going to be very difficult," Claggett said, "and I would fully expect he would have to run under 15 seconds to qualify for Gainesville. That's what I've told him.

"To me, Godfrey is a very strong hurdler technically. He does all the things right a hurdler does. He may be lacking a little bit in strength because he hasn't recovered from the slow start. I would expect him to go ahead and run his best race (today). If he gets out of his blocks right and is clean over the first few hurdles, I expect Godfrey to be there right with them.

"As you know, Godfrey is a very, very fierce competitor. Godfrey loves to compete. That's what he lives for."

He has learned that he can afford to wait, though.

"I think I've learned to let time take it's course," he said.

"I know now not to rush anything because I don't want to injure myself doing something too fast, so I just let time take it's course."

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