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Gaither loads up for '94

To hear coach Gary Hallauer fortell it, his Gaither boys track team should have a "successful" upcoming season.

But give equal time to the comments of any of his rivals, and you'll find to Hallauer, success seems a relative term.

"Oh, Gaither is LOADED," says Brandon boys coach Jim Graves. "Talk to (Hallauer). They're the team to beat." "Yeah, Gaither is tough," agrees Hillsborough High coach Ike Williams. "They're pretty deep. They're going to be tough."

Yes, with tons of talent, equal depth and big-meet-forged experience, the Cowboys should make life miserable for most of the teams they face this year. Yet Graves' Eagles and Williams' Terriers, and a handful of other schools, also have the tools to help dish out the misery.

Truth be told, as many as a half dozen programs could vie for county dominance during the 1994 season. And though Hallauer won't deny his team at least a co-favorite's mantel, he is the first to point out kudos mean way more at the other end of the season.

"It's very (promising)," he says. "But it's too early to (predict anything). I think we'll be very competitive. And if our distance guys go out and do what they're capable of doing, based on the cross country season, we should have a very successful year."

Here's a look at some of the individuals to keep an eye on during the 1994 Hillsborough County track and field season:

Sprints (100, 200 & 400 meters): As usual, the speediest and _ likely _ most prolific _ performers will come from Hillsborough High. Coach Williams has three juniors _ Carl Love, Kelo Langston and Jimmy Cruz _ who, he predicts, will have immediate impact in the 100 and 200 meters. Tampa Catholic has its own trio of promising short-sprinters in Halvern Johnson, Willie Terrell and football sensation Elijah Powell. Gaither will rely upon Jose Blair and Joel Howell, with help from Robert Lindsey, a state-caliber hurdling and short sprint transfer from Brooksville-Hernando High. Brandon's Eric Younggren and Tampa Catholic's John Schafer are both standout quarter-milers.

Distances (800, 1,600 & 3,200 meters): Leto and Gaither, which finished 1-2 in the Class 5A state cross country meet in November, both are stocked and ready to extend the rivalry. Gaither's Scott Levell, second in the state 2-mile last year, should be a mile and 2-mile force, as should teammates Raymond Friedman _ a two-time, all-country cross country transfer from Gibbs, and senior Brian Chase. Leto's Robert Steinlein (7th individually), Keith Gilbert (11th), Bobby McConnell and Frank Bonsack all were top performers at the cross country finals and could excel again here. Brandon's Joey Amezquita, Hillsborough's Jay Prier, Brian White and Cory Kaoetten and Tampa Catholic's Jaime Barretto and Scott Giamcomelli all should have impact.

Hurdles: Gaither's Mike Tavaras has advanced to the state meet in both distances in each of the past two years. This could be his year to win at least one, as it also could for Lindsey _ a state qualifier for Hernando High last year. Brandon should score well with the combination of Younggren and Frankie Fountain, a junior.

Field events: A state pole vault title just might be in reach for Brandon's Gene Crouch, who cleared 12-0 in 1993. King's Johnny Gibbs, a junior, also could attain impressive heights. East Bay's Francesco Bradshaw, who was fifth at last year's decathlon championships, will provide versatility and experience wherever needed. Tampa Catholic coach Nick DiMaggio is expecting big things from Chris Suarez in the shot put and discus. Hillsborough Matt King and Larry Rogers also will compete in both throws. Terriers teammates Russell Johnson, who long jumped 23 feet in 1993, and Trent Johnson will handle the jumps for Hillsborough. John Floyd and Sam Trotman, also available as sprinters, will handle the jumps for Gaither.

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