A day after a high school runner collapsed at Thursday's Hillsborough County cross country championships with no certified athletic trainer on site, some local coaches indicated the presence of just one trainer still may be insufficient for larger meets.
Veteran Plant girls coach Roy Harrison said an event the size of the county championships, which featured approximately 800 runners, should have an ambulance on hand at all times and, perhaps, two or three trainers.
"Kids go down with cramps and things like that," Harrison said. "There's no way one trainer would be able to handle all that."
Newsome sophomore Lars Benner, who collapsed only a few yards from the finish and later was hospitalized, returned to school Friday.
"He's doing great," Wolves coach Orlando Greene said.
After collapsing, Benner was placed in a bath of ice water until paramedics arrived at Lutz's Lake Park. He later was taken to Tampa General Hospital and released that night. No trainer was staffed for the race in what Hillsborough County athletic director Lanness Robinson termed a "miscommunication" with his office and Steinbrenner High, the host school.
Robinson said he was never made aware that Steinbrenner's on-site trainer already was staffing a volleyball match and preseason soccer tournament on the school's campus that same evening. On Friday, Robinson said the miscommunication has been addressed.
"They thought they had it covered; I didn't know they didn't have it covered when they didn't let me know about it," Robinson said.
While noting "anything's feasible," Robinson said each event would have to be assessed individually, adding the cost of hiring an ambulance for one football game is about $450.
Veteran Plant boys coach Mike Boza, whose squad won the team title Thursday, said he personally hired three trainers for the Florida Athletic Coaches Association Classic he hosted at Ed Radice Park in early September. Nonetheless, he said the trio struggled to keep up with those needing assistance in the sauna-like conditions.
The key, he suggested, is making sure runners are properly hydrated and trained before they race. Boza also said most coaches know how to respond if a runner collapses; Robinson added that all his coaches now are required to earn CPR certification.
But even those measures may not suffice in the event of an unseasonable weather pattern. Thursday's temperature in Tampa reached 91 degrees, a local record for Oct. 28.
"If you're hosting a late October meet, you don't usually expect you're going to have heat exhaustion problems, but it is what it is," Boza said.