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Wharton boys could contend for state title

The Wildcats have the talent. But it must all come together Saturday at the Class 4A meet.

By SCOTT PURKS

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 10, 2001


TAMPA -- The scenarios have been twisted, stretched, prodded and poked. And now, two days before the Class 4A state track meet, it appears certain.

Wharton's boys have a chance to win the championship.

"If the competition runs its regular races and we race over our heads, then I wouldn't rule out winning," Wharton coach David Watson said. "The key for us is to get everyone past the preliminaries and into the finals.

"I've preached that all week. You've got to get to the finals. Then if we get in the finals, maybe we can make something happen."

Wharton's success begins with Dwight Ellick, the defending New York state 100-meter champion.

Ellick, who transferred to Wharton last summer, comes into Saturday's meet as the No. 1 seed in the 100, No. 2 in the 200 and as the anchor of the 4x400 relay.

"I think if I get a strong start (in the 100 and 200 meters), then those races are mine," Ellick said. "I think if I get out of those blocks, then that crowd is going to go 'Wooooooo, look at that.'

"And if that happens, then the tone will be set for the team. I want to set that tone."

Following Ellick in Wharton's point chase will be Alex Harris (high jump, triple jump), Josh Cotton (400, 4x400), Stuart Carrico (800, 4x800, 4x400), Steve Carrico (330 hurdles, 4x800, 4x400), Andrew Fulton (3,200) and Bret Galbraith or Paul LeFebvre for a leg in the 4x800.

"I would say all of those guys have chances to score pretty high," Watson said. "There is a lot of competition we're going up against, and I expect it to be tight."

Most prognosticators believe the top team contenders are Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson and Palm Beach Atlantic, both featuring balanced attacks with strong sprinters.

"All I know is that we haven't lost a meet all year where we've run all of our top athletes," Watson said. "And these guys certainly don't want to start here with a loss.

"No one has backed off of their workouts. No one has been taking it easy. These guys are all seniors, except for Cotton, and for most of them, this could be their last big competitive race. Believe me. This means a lot to them. They won't leave anything out there."

On the girls side, Wharton also is among the favorites.

But the Wildcats don't appear to have enough depth to make a run at a state title.

Senior Carmen Crespo and Kendra Smith are among the individual favorites in both the high jump and triple jump.

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