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2A-3 cross country: Wiregrass pulls off the sweep

Boys Team Results: Wiregrass Ranch 59, Nature Coast 66, Pasco 113, Hernando 115, Sunlake 119, Citrus 139, Crystal River 158, Lecanto 203, Villages 234, Alachua Santa Fe 265, Crescent City 306, Dunnellon 325, Zephyrhills 345, Keystone Heights 414; Individual Results: 1. Matt Lambert, Nature Coast 16:19; 2. Bruce Federico, Nature Coast 16:20; 3. Joe Wright, Hernando 16:38; 4. Tory Webb, Lecanto 16:40; 5. Ryan Pulsifer, Wiregrass Ranch 16:40; 6. Kenneth Fessel, Sunlake 16:53.24; 7. Anthony Plourde, Pasco 16:55; 8. Derick Hannigan, Crystal River 16:56; 9. John Davis, Wiregrass Ranch 17:01; 10. Josh Reilly, Wiregrass Ranch 17:08; 11. David O'Quinn, Nature Coast 17:09; 12. Timothy Wenger, Citrus 17:10; 13. Jesse Balogh, Hernando 17:15; 14. Geremy Dewitt, Crystal River 17:16; 15. Guillermo Ishida, Sunlake 17:18

Girls Team Results: Wiregrass Ranch 44, Crystal River 88, Pasco 99, Citrus 102, Nature Coast 156, Lecanto 157, Villages 193, Ocala West Port 209, Sunlake 229, Hernando 254, Keystone Heights 271, Alachua Santa Fe 303, Zephyrhills 335, Crescent City 386; Individual Results: 1. Gretchen MacMillan, West Port 19:07; 2. Ariel Grey, Wiregrass Ranch 19:28; 3. Leeann Eble, Pasco 20:08; 4. Megan Ibison, Wiregrass Ranch 20:16; 5. Melissa Schmidt, Crystal River 20:30; 6. Brandi Nichols, Citrus 20:42; 7. Erin Wells, Citrus 20:48; 8. Heather Snyder, Lecanto 20:57; 9. Kelsey Sturman, Wiregrass Ranch 20:58; 10. Kristen Hall, Crystal River 21:07; 11. Morgan Schwall, Crystal River 21:12; 12. Taylor Hixson, Wiregrass Ranch 21:30; 13. Teresa Christmas, Pasco 21:40; 14. Thailia Menifee, Santa Fe 21:45; 15. Brittany Lakhani, Dunnellon 21:49

BROOKSVILLE — A wrestler long before he became a runner, Nature Coast senior Matt Lambert took up cross country last fall simply to condition himself for a winter of reversals and half-nelsons.

Until Thursday, in fact, he never had even won a race. But on the narrow asphalt strip encircling McKethan Lake Park, the gritty 140-pounder for the Sharks wrestling team notched the biggest takedown of his career.

He took down the whole 105-runner field at the Class 2A, District 3 meet.

Running neck-and-neck with junior teammate Bruce Federico nearly the entire race, Lambert prevailed on his "favorite course" in a personal-best 16 minutes, 19 seconds to help lead Nature Coast to a runnerup finish. Federico finished a second behind.

"I was expecting 16:25, no faster," Lambert said. "I'm very surprised."

Lambert's inaugural triumph capped a bittersweet day for the Sharks, who watched Wiregrass Ranch edge them for the team title by seven points. The victory by the Bulls boys capped a sweep for Wiregrass, which overwhelmed the girls race by a 44-point margin.

The Bulls' district titles, according to girls coach Don Howard, are the first in any team sport for the third-year school. What's more, the girls team was missing No. 5 runner Lakeishia Brown (leg injury) and purposely rested No. 6 runner Jasmine Boynkin.

"For us to win by that margin without the No. 5 and 6 (runners) feels good," Howard said.

Wiregrass' boys put three runners in the top 10, led by sophomore Ryan Pulsifer's fifth-place finish, and benefited from some Nature Coast misfortune. Sharks No. 3 runner Tyler Harrison was tripped up late in the race, coach Armen Merjanian said, and pulled out upon cramping up.

On the girls side, Wiregrass Ranch sophomore Ariel Grey fell short in her bid to defend her district title, logging a personal-best 19:28 but finishing second to 5-foot Ocala West Port junior Gretchen MacMillan by 21 seconds. Pasco senior Leeann Eble, a district champ in 2005 and '06, placed third with a season-best 20:08 and led her team to a third-place showing. The top six teams and 15 individuals advance to next week's region meet on the East Coast.

Grey, who defeated MacMillan in last year's race, collapsed as she reached the finish and was helped to her feet by two officials. She attributed her fatigue to a failure to eat breakfast Thursday, and perhaps overcompensating by drinking several bottles of water.

"I overhydrated maybe, but you know, I can't make excuses," Grey said. "I've got to come out and just run."

2A-3 cross country: Wiregrass pulls off the sweep 11/06/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 6, 2008 9:25pm]
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