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Class change adds intrigue


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2000

When St. Petersburg Catholic was bumped from Class A to 2A in the off-season, there was immediate anticipation that the 2A-5 district meet would be more interesting.

Exactly how much more interesting we will find out today. The Barons boys team, ranked No. 5 in the state by, will try to challenge the host school, perennial state contender Jesuit, at Al Lopez Park in Tampa.

Jesuit, ranked No. 2 and the defending district champion, has the big-meet experience, but upstart SPC thinks it can topple the Tigers.

"Jesuit is definitely the favorite, but I think we can pull it off," SPC coach Jeff Ehlert said. "We've got to have a good day from everybody."

The Barons were very strong through September and early October, but a few nagging injuries helped cause the team to level off. No. 2 runner Tony Cormier is getting over a neck injury, and No. 4 Ben Shimko has had a sore knee. Ehlert said both should be at or close to 100 percent by race time.

The race for individual honors should be between two runners who know each other like twin brothers. SPC senior Mike Craig and Clearwater Central Catholic sophomore Kevin Lyons have raced numerous times this year, and both have claimed victories. Lyons could have a slight edge having raced this course last month.

Those two will be pursued by Cormier, SPC No. 3 Brian Sullivan, and a stampede of Jesuit runners. Ehlert said the Tigers have had seven individuals break 17 minutes this year.

"They don't have that standout, super runner, but as a group they're going to be tough to beat," Ehlert said.

CCC freshman phenom Apryl Wall and senior Janet Howard will challenge Tampa Catholic's Glenna Dickman for individual honors in the girls race. Wall had her best time of the year, 19:14, on this course last month.

Academy of Holy Names, which was runner-up to CCC for team honors last year, is the girls favorite. Lakewood, led by sophomore Adrienne Lufkin and junior Elysia Axman, has raced well recently and should easily advance to the region meet.

2A-5 cross country

WHERE: Al Lopez Park, Tampa.

WHEN: Today. Girls -- 4:30 p.m.; boys -- 5:15.

WHO: Academy of the Holy Names, Bartow, Clearwater Central Catholic, Dixie Hollins, Dunedin, Frostproof, Gibbs, Jefferson, Jesuit, Lakeland Kathleen, Lake Wales, Lakewood, Mulberry, Osceola, Robinson, St. Petersburg Catholic, Tampa Catholic.

AT STAKE: Because the district has 15 or more teams, the top eight teams and 15 individuals will advance to the Region 3 meet Nov. 11 at Bradenton Christian.

- Compiled by Pete Young.

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