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Pressure to win increases for Indian

By MIKE READLING

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 30, 2001


RIVERVIEW -- The spotlight is all hers.

After three years of sharing the attention -- as well as the burden that comes with it -- East Bay's Lindsey Moffenbier enters her senior year as a solo act.

Graduation claimed former Bloomingdale standout Amber Littleton and Riverview standout Dee Dee Haefling. Even Jill Gerber, the Fort Myers Cypress Lakes star expected to be Moffenbier's main competition at the state meet, moved to Michigan.

That leaves Moffenbier to endure the pressure of being the favorite to win every race.

"I'm nervous, excited," Moffenbier said. "A lot of other people expect a lot out of me, and I expect a lot out of myself. I'm really excited about this year."

Not that Moffenbier won't have any competition this year. (She points to Gaither's Amanda Wells and Plant's Mallory Giordano as the top two on her radar.) It just won't be as intense as the past three years.

During that period, three runners from eastern Hillsborough County had a chance to win any given meet.

It was a rivalry that helped Moffenbier. First, it took pressure off of her to win. Second, the three could pace and push each other virtually every meet, getting in prime shape for state.

"I think there's a fair amount of pressure on her," East Bay coach Mark Buchanan said. "There was a lot of competition in the past years from those girls, and it's gone. That adds a lot of pressure to win."

As if that weren't enough, Moffenbier entered Tuesday night's season-opening meet at Riverview -- which she won in 19 minutes, 30 seconds -- as the top-ranked Class 3A runner in the state. "That was scary," Moffenbier said. "That put a target on me.

"But I think it's going to make me work a lot harder. I want to be able to live up to people's expectations."

If there's something Moffenbier knows about, it's living up to expectations.

After she finished second in the state during her freshman season, Moffenbier finished in the top five the next two years. While another top-five finish would be nice, most people see Moffenbier's senior year as her chance to go out on top.

"I just want to place really well at state," Moffenbier said.

While she hopes to bring her time down to 17:30 seconds, (her previous best is 17:50), Moffenbier's main goal is to run a faster time in every meet this year than she ran in the same meet last year. Besides being a measure of her progress, Buchanan said concentrating on running a certain time also is a good way to keep her mind off of the fact that she's supposed to win every race.

"It's a way of diverting the pressure, giving her something to focus on," he said. "If she can focus on other goals, the winning will take care of itself."

And so will scholarships.

Moffenbier has received numerous letters but hasn't made a decision. She wants to be a veterinarian and is looking at schools with strong programs such as Auburn and Kansas State. She also lists Texas A&M, Florida and Florida State as favorites.

She was born in Kansas City, Kan., and moved to Florida when she was in fourth grade.

She spent a week last summer in Junction City, Kan., with her grandparents and might like to get out of Florida for college.

But first, she must take care of some other issues and has her sights set on Ed Radice Park and the state meet in November.

"I just want to have everything go good," Moffenbier said, "and run good times more than anything else."

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