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Warhawk boys win Disney meet


© St. Petersburg Times, published October 12, 2000

The Seminole boys placed first out of 14 teams and the Warhawk girls were sixth out of 11 Saturday in the Class 3A division of the Disney Invitational in Lake Buena Vista.

As they have throughout the season, junior Gordon Redshaw and senior Anthony Espaillat paced the boys. Both were timed in personal bests 15 minutes, 44 seconds as they finished second and third, respectively.

Seminole's next three runners also set personal bests: junior Matt Morton (16:12), freshman Nate Holden (16:25) and junior Andrew Kennedy (16:34).

"It was kind of a depleted field compared with past years, so it's kind of hard to tell how well we did," Seminole coach Bruce Calhoun said. "But the team ran well."

In the girls race, Seminole junior Sarah Stargel knocked a full minute off of her personal best, finishing seventh in 19:16. Classmate Nicole Ferraro was 10th in 19:28. The girls might have placed higher, but senior Jackie Magee did not race after being on the school's Homecoming court the night before.

The fast times led to speculation the course was a bit short, but Calhoun said race directors assured him it was 3 miles.

FAST TIMES IN PINELLAS COUNTY: For the first month of the season, Keswick Christian's Christa Benton was the only girl to break 20 minutes while no boy finished in less than 16 minutes.

Now, with several more weeks of training and racing in their legs and the temperature dropping, county runners are regularly shattering those standards. Nine girls have broken 20 minutes, and four boys have beaten 16 minutes, including three times by Clearwater Central Catholic's Kevin Lyons and twice by Admiral Farragut's John Biffar.

COUNTY BEST: Lyons, who won the Jesuit/Berkeley Prep Freshman/Sophomore Invitational on Tuesday in 15:45, ran his 15:32 Saturday at Polk Community College in the Invitational.

The race at PCC might have been an explanation for the weakened field at Disney. Numerous good teams and runners from around the state were at PCC, and Lyons' superb effort was good for just 17th place in the boys A race. He wasn't even the first Lyons across the line, as Citrus' Tony Lyons (no relation) beat him by a fraction of a second.

CCC senior Janet Howard's 20:08 placed her sixth. WEEKDAY WARRIOR: CCC freshman Apryl Wall plays club soccer on weekends and doesn't participate in the Marauders' Saturday meets. It hasn't stopped her from becoming one of the top runners in the county, however. Wall was second at the Jesuit/Berkeley Prep meet in 19:14, the second-best girls time in the county this year.

ALL TOGETHER NOW: The Largo Invitational today at Taylor Park brings together all of the county's public and private schools -- and no outsiders -- making it one of the most anticipated meets of the season.

Defending champion Seminole is the favorite in the girls race, with Largo, Keswick Christian, Shorecrest, Palm Harbor U., CCC, Indian Rocks Christian and East Lake also expected to do well. The boys title will be contested between defending champion Seminole and St. Petersburg Catholic, with the Warhawks having a clear advantage on the strength of their No. 5 runner, Kennedy.

If the temperature is cool, expect the times to be fast, with Benton gunning for the course record of 17:41, set at last year's Class 3A region meet by Fort Myers Cypress Lake's Jill Gerber.

Introducing: Melissa Kotchman

GRADE: Seventh.

AGE: 13 (her birthday was Oct. 2).

FAVORITE FOOD: Oreo ice cream.



FAVORITE BOOK: A Gown of Spanish Lace.

FAVORITE PLACE: Lexington, N.C. (where she lived from second through fourth grade).



WHEN: Today. Girls junior varsity -- 4 p.m.; boys junior varsity -- 4:30; girls varsity -- 5; boys varsity -- 5:30.

WHERE: Taylor Park, Largo.

WHO: Pinellas County public and private schools.

1999 WINNERS: Team -- Girls, Seminole; boys, Seminole. Individual -- Girls, Christa Benton, Keswick Christian, 17:49; boys, Joe VanAsten, Seminole, 15:28 (graduated).

THE SKINNY: With all of the top teams and runners in the county represented, this is always one of the most interesting meets of the year. Twenty-four teams and more than 400 runners are expected. The most compelling story line is probably the boys individual race, where six runners from five schools -- Admiral Farragut's John Biffar, St. Petersburg Catholic's Mike Craig, Seminole's Gordon Redshaw and Anthony Espaillat, CCC's Kevin Lyons and Largo's Dan Bauer -- have legitimate hopes of winning. -- Compiled by Pete Young.

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