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Bawden speeds to division title in Gasparilla 15K

Hernando High senior Gina Bawden, the reigning Class 3A state cross-country champion, won her age group last Saturday at the Gasparilla Distance Classic in Tampa.

Bawden finished the prestigious 15K (9.3-mile) race in 58 minutes, 52 seconds _ 7:30 ahead of the runner-up in the girls ages 15-19 division, Staphanie Santoro of Tampa.

Bawden, a New Zealand native who has signed a running scholarship with the University of South Florida, wound up 30th among women. South African Elana Meyer was the top female finisher in 48:11, and Zimbabwe's Phillimon Hannack was the overall winner in 42:35.

Other top 15K finishers from Hernando County included Erin Chatman, who was third in the girls 14-and-under age group at 1:19.38, and Boston Marathon veteran Carol Friedland, who finished in 1:06.07.

Three high school runners from Hernando and Citrus counties placed among the top 20 in the Gasparilla 5K, won by Ronnie Holassie of Miami in 14:46. Lecanto High's Sean McManus was ninth in 16:19, Hernando High's Eric Omdahl was 13th in 16:43, and Lecanto's Chad Fugere was 20th in 27:07.

More than 13,000 competitors took part in the event's 15K, 5K and wheelchair races.

Tampa criterium: More than 300 cyclists, including several national champions, showed up Sunday in Tampa to race in honor of the late cycling coach Stan Anderson. The turnout for the third annual Stan Anderson Memorial Criterium at Woodlands Corporate Park made the work of Tampa's BBC Club more than worthwhile.

Winner of the Pro 1-2 category, or Expert/Elite as it is now called, was Radisa Cubric (Guiltless Gourmet), an Olympic cyclist from Yugoslavia and a winter resident of Tampa. Cubric outsprinted the field after first completing a 40-mile ride. He then logged another 45 miles in the late afternoon.

"Yes, I must ride 500 miles per week now," Cubric said. "I'm preparing to go to the Tour of Redlands Classic in California next week."

Duathletes fight wind: Last Sunday's final in the Winter Duathlon Series saw several hundred riders fighting a cold east wind as they completed three loops around Clermont's Lake Minneola in the 22-mile bike segment. Top finisher Joshua Fuller, 17, of Plant City held on to a commanding lead, winning the series championship despite a challenge from Switzerland's Carlo Ryser.

The women's winner was Tracy Nist, 26, of Tampa, and the top female master was Feather Hicks, 47, of Okahumpka. Other winners included Melissa Gelineau, Nola Calkins, Kathy Morgan, Jessica Mundie, and Ralph Perry, all of the St. Pete Mad Dogs Triathlon Club. Series winners in the relay division were Sister Act (Brianne and Shana Harrington) of St. Petersburg, and Team Vision Cable (Joe Kline and David Bjelland) of Clearwater.

Winner of the series' fat-tire division was Jason Sak of Orlando. Wade Gunther, 35, of Tampa won the competitive Clydesdale division and now will concentrate his training on the St. Anthony's Triathlon in St. Petersburg and the Florida State Time Trial Championships in Naples this summer.

Meek & Mighty Mini Tri: Pools and cycling-running routes already are full of adults getting ready for the St. Anthony's Triathlon on April 24. Now there's something for kids 7 and up _ the Meek & Mighty Mini Tri 1994 on April 23 at North Shore Pool in St. Petersburg.

The Meek & Mighty offers competition in three divisions: adults 15 and older, kids 11-14, and kids 7-10. Race distances will be 1.2-mile run, 5.4-mile bike, and 200-yard swim.

For more information, call race headquarters at (813) 825-1271.