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Munford, 13, already one of fastest in county

She may already have established herself as a track and field force in the state, just missing out on qualifying for the Junior Olympics national championships several times, but don't expect to find Leiko Munford striding around some high school campus.

She hasn't gotten that far yet.

Munford, 13, who will begin eighth grade in August, already is one of the fastest sprinters in Hernando County.

Last weekend at Showalter Field in Winter Park, she finished sixth in the 100 meters, fourth in the 200, and fifth in the long jump at the Junior Olympics regional meet. She didn't run the 400 because it was "too hot," said Rick Munford, her father and coach.

In order to qualify for the Junior Olympics national championships, Munford needed to finish in the top three.

Even so, those finishes include times of 12.5 in the 100 preliminaries and 12.6 in the final, ranking Munford among the top five sprinters in the county, high school or middle school.

"I'd say she is almost as fast as most of the girls in high school," said Rick Munford, who also coaches track at Central High. "She is probably number four or five in the county."

Munford is working hard to earn her speedy reputation.

As a seventh-grader at West Hernando Middle, she compiled records of 7-0 in the 100, 4-0 in the 200, and anchored a 4x100 relay team that finished the season 5-0.

She has been competing in track since she was 5 and has run against some of the top competition in the state, including River Ridge's Char Foster.

Also included on Munford's resume is a fifth place in the 100 and sixth in the 400 in the 1995 Sunshine State Games. She has never qualified for the Junior Olympics nationals.

"She has been close a couple of times, but it's tough when you run against Char Foster every year since you were 5," said Rick Munford. "She says right now she is training for the future."