Seminole High boys cross country coach Bruce Calhoun could have shed tears of joy Friday. "It really was a big win," he said. "It is about the most exciting thing to happen to us in quite some time. It just brings tears to your eyes when they run that well."
"It" was the Warhawks' 11-point victory Thursday in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference cross-country championships, the school's first conference title. Seminole finished first with 69 points, ahead of Clearwater (78) and defending champion Largo (89), breaking the Packers' four-year hold on the conference. Seminole is only the fourth team to win the PCC title. Largo had won the county 20 out of 22 times, interrupted only by Countryside (1985) and St. Petersburg (1975).
"I never thought I'd hear that," said Calhoun as his team was announced as the county winner on Thursday. "I really didn't."
The Warhawks' top three runners (Dan McHugh, Erick Lipham and Andy Fussner) all placed in the top 15, and the Nos. 4-5 runners turned in good efforts too. It was the kind of team effort that Calhoun and the Warhwawks have been chasing all year. Seminole's Ian Smith finished 21st in 16:50 and Eric Mollholland was 24th in 16:52.
"This is a meet I've been looking forward to for a month," said No. 1 runner McHugh, who finished third overall in 15:48. "We all wanted to earn some respect. Hardly anyone knows who Seminole is."
But, says Calhoun, there is always another week, another meet. Districts. Regionals.
"I'm not confident about anything," he said. "I'm thinking ahead, and I'm just hoping we will try our darnedest to get through districts.
"But Thursday was a real team effort."
Calhoun had high hopes for his team this season, but injuries and a lack of summer preparation knocked out two of his top five runners. And the work load didn't let up as the season progressed.
"Early in the season I was probably never giving them the adequate rest they needed going into a meet," said Calhoun. "A lot of these smaller meets _ you have to have your kids running right up through them to prepare them for doing their best job at the big ones.
"I guess I wasn't doing a good job of resting them."
In from the cold: Personal record times dropped along with the temperature on Thursday. Gibbs' Kenyada Jones, however was one of the few runners who wasn't happy with the climate.
Coughing a bit as he spoke, he seemed in a hurry to find a room with a space heater.
"I'm a warm-weather person," explained Jones, who finished second behind St. Petersburg's Brian Herring in Thursday's race.
"I catch cold easily. Breathing in all that cold air gave me a sore throat."
Less is more: East Lake's Tasha Lee ran a county-best 11:41 Thursday, ahead of Dixie Hollins freshman Marjorie Schmidt. Her previous best, since moving from Missouri, had been a 12:05.
The secret? Lee slowed down a bit, sort of. A member of the Eagles swimming team, she had maintained a mix all year, including swimming a meet the night before the Countryside Jim Thurston Invitational on Sept. 27.
This time she skipped a swimming meet on Wednesday to concentrate on the county meet. But, ever the competitor, she competed in a triathlon the weekend before the PCAC.
"Coach told me not to go, but when I did well, he was proud," Lee said.
After the season she will start concentrating on other sports, like tennis.
"I'm a better tennis player than I am a runner," she said.
1. Brian Herring, St. Petersburg 14:39
2. Joe Palmer, Largo 15:31
3. Kenyada Jones, Gibbs 15:35
4. Dan McHugh, Seminole 15:48
5. Sheldon Pennington, Largo 15:51
6. Chris Galle, Countryside 15:52
7. Bruce Ramcharran, Pinellas Park 15:53
7. Jesse Kier, Clearwater 15:53
9. Marc Moseley, St. Petersburg 16:02
10. Randy Najera, Boca Ciega 16:03
1. Tasha Lee, East Lake 11:41
2. Marjorie Schmidt, Dixie Hollins 11:46
3. Jennifer Vieira, Clearwater 11:49
4. Amy Goss, Osceola 11:57
5. Wyleia Foster, Clearwater 12:07
6. Kristin Conner, Lakewood 12:11
7. Tiffany Hill, Seminole 12:17
8. Jeanette Holmberg, East Lake 12:28
9. Natalie Biniasz, Lakewood 12:33
10. Megan Meadows, Largo 12:45
10. Kim Griffin, Largo 12:45
10. Carmen DeHaan, Keswick 12:45
- The honor roll is based on times reported in the St Petersburg Times.