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Top runners ready for tuneup

By RODNEY PAGE

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2001


There should be few surprises at this week's district meets.

There should be few surprises at this week's district meets.

Seminole's boys and girls teams, provided they don't get lost on their way to Taylor Park, should dominate today's Class 3A, District 5 meet.

The Tampa Jesuit boys, the second-ranked team in Class 2A by flrunners.com, likewise should have little trouble at the Class 2A, District 5 meet today at Al Lopez Park.

But things aren't as clear-cut in Class A, where area schools have five boys teams and three girls teams ranked in the state's top 15 by flrunners.com.

In District 4, St. Petersburg Catholic's boys, ranked second in the state, could be pushed Saturday at Bradenton's G.T. Bray Park by Shorecrest (ranked ninth), Keswick Christian (12th) and Admiral Farragut (15th).

Indian Rocks Christian, which will compete in Friday's Class A, District 3 meet at Taylor Park, is ranked third.

With six teams advancing to regionals in Districts 3 and 4, there isn't a sense of urgency, but there will still be competition to finish first.

"We want to win districts, no doubt," IRC coach Kris Williams said. "But we really want them to peak at regionals and states. We spend most of our season running in the big meets, like pre-states and flrunners.com. That's how we like to get ready for this time of year."

Indian Rocks Christian's boys should make a run at the District 3 championship. The Golden Eagles are coming off a Bay Conference championship last week and are led by Jeremy Myer, Nathan Holden, seventh-grader Zach Rousenelous and Mike Mayleben.

As for St. Petersburg Catholic, the Barons haven't won a cross country district championship since 1978. That 23-year drought could end Saturday.

"Our guys are excited, but to be honest, we're geared more toward the state meet," SPC coach Jeff Ehlert said. "We've raced against Shorecrest and Keswick enough, so we know what to expect. Our guys want to race against (Tallahassee) Maclay to see where they really stand."

Juniors Tony Cormier, Brian Sullivan and Keith Evanouskas, along with sophomores Sam Secord and Bobby Yevitch, have been strong all season. St. Petersburg Catholic racked up an impressive list of wins this season, including the St. Petersburg City Championship.

"Winning is great, but I'd rather be ready at the end of the season," Cormier said.

Shorecrest is sure to be on the Barons' heels. The Chargers are led by Matt Mosby.

Perhaps the best individual runner in District 4 is Admiral Farragut's John Biffar. The junior was the Times Runner of the Year last season and finished ahead of Cormier at the City Championships.

The Keswick Christian and Shorecrest girls are favored in Class A, District 4. Shorecrest's 1-2 punch of Maggie Thompson and Brittany Whitelock should help the Chargers advance. Keswick's Kendra Oliver also is a top runner.

Then there is Indian Rocks Christian's Melissa Kotchman.

Ranked second in the state, Kotchman easily won the Bay Conference meet in 18 minutes, 32 seconds. She should have no problem at the District 3 meet.

"Unless she gets sick or loses it mentally, she should do fine," Williams said. "We'd like for her to get second in the state (behind Maclay's Kara Newell)."

CROSS COUNTRY DISTRICT MEETS

In districts with fewer than 15 teams, the first six teams and the first 15 individuals not on those teams advance to regional meets. In districts with 15 or more teams, the first eight teams and the first 15 individuals not on those teams advance. Regionals are Nov. 10. Admission to all meets is $4.

CLASS 4A, DISTRICT 4

WHERE: Lake Park, Tampa

WHEN: Thursday, girls at 4 p.m. and boys at 4:40

TEAMS: Bloomingdale, Chamberlain, Gaither, Hillsborough, Leto, Bradenton Manatee, Palm Harbor University, Pinellas Park, Plant City, Riverview, Sarasota Riverview, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Venice, Wharton

OUTLOOK: Bloomingdale appears to have the strongest boys team with Tyler Olcott and Roy Gossage leading the way. Leto is also ranked by flrunners.com. Sarasota Riverview, led by Shea Cookerly, is the top girls team. Palm Harbor U. is the local team with the best chance of advancing.

CLASS 3A, DISTRICT 5

WHERE: Taylor Park, Largo

WHEN: Thursday, girls at 4 p.m. and boys at 4:40

TEAMS: Boca Ciega, Clearwater, Countryside, Dixie Hollins, Dunedin, East Lake, Gibbs, Lakewood, Land O'Lakes, Largo, Mitchell, Northeast, Ridgewood, River Ridge, Seminole, Tarpon Springs

OUTLOOK: Seminole could make it a clean sweep after another impressive regular season. Largo has the second-best boys and girls teams in the area, and that should continue at this meet. Seminole's boys are led by Gordon Redshaw and Sarah Stargel leads the girls. Matt Timm leads the Largo boys and Deanna Drugash leads the girls.

CLASS 2A, DISTRICT 5

WHERE: Al Lopez Park, Tampa

WHEN: Thursday, girls at 4 p.m. and boys at 4:40

TEAMS: Avon Park, Bartow, Blake, Clearwater Central Catholic, Tampa Jesuit, Lakeland Kathleen, Lake Wales, Mulberry, Osceola, Robinson, Sebring, Tampa Catholic

OUTLOOK: Tampa Jesuit's boys are ranked second by flrunners.com. CCC's Kevin Lyons has his sights set on the state meet, so he likely won't stumble here. CCC's Apryl Wall is also a state-caliber runner and will help the girls team.

CLASS A, DISTRICT 3

WHERE: Taylor Park, Largo

WHEN: Friday, girls at 1 p.m. and boys at 1:40

TEAMS: Academy of the Holy Names, Winter Haven All Saints' Academy, Bayshore Christian, Berkeley Prep, Lakeland Christ Community Christian, Frostproof, Indian Rocks Christian, Lakeland Christian, Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic, Seminole Presbyterian, Tampa Prep, Avon Park Walker Memorial

OUTLOOK: Melissa Kotchman of Indian Rocks Christian is a contender for the district championship and she's only in eighth grade. Berkeley Prep can win the boys district, especially with state-ranked Rolf Steir.

CLASS A, DISTRICT 4

WHERE: G.T. Bray Park, Bradenton

WHEN: Saturday, girls at 9:30 a.m. and boys at 10

TEAMS: Admiral Farragut, Bradenton Academy, Bradenton Christian, Fort Myers Canterbury, Canterbury, Sarasota Cardinal Mooney, Community School of Naples, Keswick Christian, Sarasota Out-of-Door Academy, Naples St. John Neumann, St. Petersburg Catholic, Bradenton St. Stephens, Sarasota Christian, Shorecrest

OUTLOOK: St. Petersburg Catholic's boys are primed to win. Tony Cormier should lead the Barons, who are ranked second in the state by flrunners.com, one spot ahead of Indian Rocks Christian. Shorecrest and Keswick Christian shouldn't be overlooked. Admiral Farragut's John Biffar could be a top individual. Shorecrest and Keswick Christian have a good chance on the girls side.

- Compiled by Rodney Page.

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