By CAREY FREEMAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 10, 2000
LECANTO -- If there was a degree of unfamiliarity for Ridgewood concerning the course at Lecanto High on Saturday, the Rams sure didn't show it. Though this was Ridgewood's first time running the somewhat confusing layout at Lecanto, it was none the worse for it, winning the boys and girls individual titles and the girls team title by two points over the Panthers.
Lizzy Leigh led the girls, finishing in 20 minutes, 15 seconds, outpacing Lecanto's Amanda Howard by more than 10 seconds. Howard (20:29) needed a strong kick over the final 200 meters to edge Central's Erin Courtney. Howard made the pass within 50 meters of the line and finished two seconds ahead of Courtney.
Lecanto had a solid pack of runners -- Howard, Kylene Colasanti (10th), Devin Murphy (12th), Kim Hite (14th), Lisa Watson (16th) and Nicole Mailoux (19th) -- who kept it close to the Rams. Ridgewood was paced by Leigh and Lizzy Sheridan, who finished in 20:43. Their efforts, combined with those of Angie Brunda (ninth), Michelle Cotharin (17th) and Meagan Keane (21st), pushed Ridgewood over the top.
"I was pleased," Rams coach Glenn Cable said. "(Leigh) actually got passed and had to fight to take the lead back, and she ran a good time. I think the course is pretty tough. I don't know what kind of times they usually get, but I thought that was a pretty good time for the course I looked at."
Jim Vitale, the 1999 Times Pasco County runner of the year, dominated the boys field, winning by 33 seconds over Hernando's John Emerson and finishing the hilly, 3-mile course in 16:00.
Despite losing four runners from last year's state title team, the Rams finished third. However, it was a surprisingly strong effort from Citrus that secured it the boys title by seven points over Central. Despite not having one of its better runners, Logan Bollenback, Citrus managed a strong showing behind Tony Lyons and C.J. Bryant, who took third and fourth, respectively. Bryan Holcomb of Lecanto took fifth. "I think Central is a very good team, and I think they'll be trouble for us all season long," Citrus coach Bruce Nelson said.
"We're real pleased we ran this well this week. We had a hard week of practice, and we ran real hard last week. I'm just pleased we were able to come out here and perform at this level."
Following Lyons and Bryant for Citrus was the trio of Rick Miller, James Lappicolo and Irvin MacQuarrie in eighth, 14th and 18th, respectively. Central was led by Trevor Scales (sixth), Aaron Henley (ninth), Adam Riney (11th), Adam Dixon (12th) and Joel Grandall (16th).