By WAYNE GRUMET
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 1, 2000
BROOKSVILLE -- Jesuit opened the Red Mule Invitational on Saturday by packing five runners into the front of the field. By the 2-mile mark, Jesuit's hopes for a team victory seemingly dropped as Matt Bischoff crumbled to the ground.
Bischoff got back up and still finished in 17 minutes, 16 seconds, but four of his teammates made up for his spill by placing in the top 15 as Jesuit, the top-ranked team in Class 2A, held off Wharton for the team title.
"We've run well pretty much every race this year, but we've been missing being all together on the same page," Jesuit coach Mike Boza said.
"That's what we did today. To put five guys within 40 seconds and as high as we did, we're really happy about that."
Ridgewood's Jim Vitale was happy with his improvement even though he moved up just one spot from last year. Fortunately for Vitale, he needed to improve only that much to win the individual title.
Vitale finished in 15:14, seven seconds ahead of Belleview's Ryan Ripley.
Estero's Chris Sutherland grabbed fourth in 15:49 while Land O'Lakes' Scott Habershaw took fifth in 15:53.
Estero, the fourth-ranked team in Class 3A, easily outdistanced the girls field for the team title. It placed four runners in the top 10, beating second-place Alachua Santa Fe by 62 points.
Santa Fe did take home the individual title as Brittney Swick ran a personal best 18:40. Swick topped Estero's April Avery, who clocked in at 18:59.
Central's Erin Courtney had a slow start, battling to get through a tight pack of more than 100 runners.
She managed to get wide and finish third in a personal-best 19:15.
Courtney pulled ahead of Estero's Andrea Rassi and Ridgewood's Lizzie Sheridan, who finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
"It was kind of tough. All these girls were coming in. I just went wide, took charge and was fierce," Courtney said.
"We're kind of pushy, but we're not like the boys. A boys varsity race is worse than football."
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From the wire
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