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Second-place finishes lift Gator girls to win


© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 9, 2001

NEW PORT RICHEY -- The Land O'Lakes girls proved that sometimes finishing second can be better than first.

Crystal River's girls won four events at Saturday's North Suncoast Relays. Land O'Lakes won only three, but six second-place finishes proved to be enough. Land O'Lakes scored 124 points, easily besting the Pirates' 96.

Crystal River's boys won the inaugural meet the old-fashioned way. They won seven of the 11 races, finishing with 112 points. Hudson finished second with 88 points.

Land O'Lakes finished the meet strong, winning three of the final six races.

"We have a lot of depth, and the girls work really well together with the boys," Land O'Lakes coach Glenna Chamberlin said. "This was a meet they were really looking forward to."

Heather Gerken and Kaleigh Bassett led the Gators by contributing to two relay wins.

Seven swimmers led Crystal River. Ash Preston led the way with four relay wins.

Matthew Washington, Mason Cummings, Chris Grillo, Tom Carter, Keith Martin and Andy Lanier had three wins each.

"The reality is in a format like this, there's only so much you can do with six (core) people. It takes everybody," Crystal River coach Tim Holme said. "I was concerned today because we had one swimmer go out with an injury. We had to scratch two relays."

Ridgewood placed third in the boys and fifth in the girls. River Ridge and Pasco finished in the top six in both boys and girls.

Land O'Lakes' boys complemented the girls team with a fourth-place showing. Wesley Chapel's girls won three events to finish fourth.

The first North Suncoast Relay Meet drew rave reviews from coaches and swimmers. Other than some late showers, the event ran smoothly. Several schools were eager to get in some practice on the relays. Some schools can't use starting blocks at their pools because of shallow depth.

"They don't get much experience with that," Holme said. "And that showed with relay starts and takeoffs."

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