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Track: Countryside routs PCAC field

CLEARWATER — Countryside's march toward a fifth consecutive Pinellas County Athletic Conference boys track title seemed inevitable over the past three months.

The Cougars, once again, emerged as the county's dominant program this season, winning team titles at the Richard Allen Relays, West Coast Invitational and Ed Wells/Kiwanis meet by whopping margins.

So it was no surprise Countryside administered a thrashing to the rest of the field on Wednesday, scoring 161.5 points, 69.5 more than runnerup Lakewood.

"Our guys were ready to run (Wednesday)," Cougars coach Eileen Givens said. "We had contributions all around."

Countryside got off to a strong start with two place-winners among the top three in the long jump and triple jump and two of the top four in the pole vault. It was quite a difference from last year, when the Cougars had to make up a 50-point deficit to win because of injuries and ineffectiveness in the field events.

"We had a lot of guys get to the finals in the field events and score for us early this time," Givens said.

Givens made another move last week that ended up paying off. She decided against participating in the Seminole Rotary meet on April 10 to give her athletes more time to rest.

The Cougars responded by winning four individual events: Brenton Conley in the long jump (22 feet, 3 inches), Derek Messmore in the 400 meters (50.27 seconds), Ricky Brown in the 800 (1:58.13) and Wylan Bernitt in the 300 hurdles (39.3). Countryside also took first in the 4x400 relay (3:28.41).

"Running a lot of meets in a row can take its toll," Givens said. "You have to understand your athletes' bodies. The rest helped, and now we'll just gear up for districts."

On the girls side, Lakewood won with ease, outscoring the Cougars 136-68.

Kala Funderburk was the Spartans' biggest point scorer, winning the 200 (25.7) and 400 (57.43). Teammate Sharell Keys took first in the 100 (12.27). Lakewood also swept the relays with wins in 4x100 (48.99), 4x400 (4:14.6) and 4x800 (10:13).

Three other girls won multiple titles in individual events: St. Petersburg's Nia Berthelot in the long jump (16-6) and high jump (5-4), Osceola's Alexis Irwin in the 800 (2:25.63) and 1,600 (5:35.79) and Countryside's Thea Linkfield in the 100 hurdles (15.49) and 300 hurdles (46.45).

Class 2A, District 10: At Sarasota, Lennard's boys rallied in the final two events to capturing the 4-year-old Hillsborough County school's first district team title in the process.

Trailing host school Sarasota Booker and Wauchula Hardee, Lennard placed three runners among the top five of the 2-mile then won the 4x400 relay to finish with 142 points. Hardee (134) was second.

"We looked at it on paper … and we knew we had a good chance to win," Lennard coach Ron Sainsbury said. "I told my guys if we're going to win this, everyone's got to have their best meet. It came down to the last couple of events there."

Rangy senior DeMyco Winston had a career day, winning the 400, triple jump, long jump and anchoring the 4x400 relay team. Another 4x400 member, Antonio Rodriguez, won the 110 and 300 hurdles. A third relay teammate, Ian Mills, won the 800.

Times staff writer Joey Knight contributed to this report.

Track: Countryside routs PCAC field 04/15/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 15, 2010 1:10am]

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