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North Suncoast track: Nature Coast girls win first district title

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Sat. April 14, 2012 | Derek J. LaRiviere

BROOKSVILLE — Nature Coast has shown depth all season, and that depth translated into Class 2A, District 6 titles for the boys and girls teams Friday night at Central.

The Sharks (200.5 points) took the boys crown over runnerup Hernando (114).

It was a big victory for Nature Coast, which had lost this season to district rival South Sumter. The Raiders won a meet held at the Sharks’ home track but placed third Friday.

Revenge was sweet on the big stage with bigger stakes.

“It was a huge surprise to win by as much as we ended up winning by,” Nature Coast coach Ryan Wilson said. “I think it says that they are very determined and believe in what we’re saying when we coach them. This is one of the best group of kids we’ve had since I’ve been here.”

The distance crew once again led the way with James Harkless and Cody Van Natter. Harkless won the 800 meters and the 1,600 as the only multiple district champion for the Sharks. Van Natter won the 3,200.

“(The distance runners) are our heartbeat,” Wilson said. “They are our backbone and have been that way all season.”

Nature Coast’s two other district champs were sprinter Frank Villaizan, who won the 200 by crossing the line in just more than 23 seconds, and Wyatt Hessler, who won the high jump with a leap of 5 feet, 10 inches.

The Leopards were led by sprinters Tyrail Hawkins, Quentin Adams and Andre Southall, who all qualified for regionals in multiple events as well. Adams is looking to repeat his spot at state from last season. The three were also members of the 4x100 relay team that made it to regionals.

The Sharks girls won their first district title in school history with 182 points over Mount Dora (94 points).

“Our girls knew where we stood today,” Nature Coast coach Ed LaRose said, “and they took it upon themselves to step up to another level.”

Depth continued to be impressive, but the unexpected came on the shoulders of five district champions.

Sprinters Alicia Gentz (100) and Brianna Baugher (200) contributed key victories, while Bronte Cameron won another crown in the 110 hurdles. The other wins came in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays for the Sharks.

Crystal Burchhardt and Brianna Horn, who have been strong all season in the 800, struggled with injuries all week and were unable to qualify in that event. However, Burchhardt will head to regionals in the 1,600, while Horn made it in the pole vault.

Hernando senior Ebone Plummer won her third consecutive district title in the shot put.

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