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Capel is growing into star

The defining moment for John Capel's track season came during the South Carolina-Tennessee football game in November.

He was in the stands at Williams-Brice Stadium with a couple of his coaches when he realized the players on the field were bigger than he was used to.

"I was sitting up there watching these guys, and they were so much bigger than I was," Capel said. "I knew if I didn't get into lifting weights I would have been crushed. I knew I had to bulk up if I was going to contend at that level."

So bulk up he did.

With the help of new coach Bill Browning, Capel hit the weight room and added about 10 pounds of muscle. The result is a much thicker, faster Capel on the track.

"He is a weightlifting addict," Hernando track coach Rodney Byrd said. "He loves to lift. He even goes in there after practice sometimes. It's helped him a great deal. He's always been a rangy, lanky kid. Now he's got something to pull around the track."

With the added weight, Capel now is about 175 pounds and can bench press 300 and clean-and-jerk 225.

This year he has broken two school records _ running the 100 meters in 10.5 seconds and the 200 in 21.3 _ and as Byrd points out, is a relative youngster in Hernando track.

"I'm way faster this year," Capel said. "And that's definitely because I've been lifting weights."

Capel's test will come Friday when he and six teammates travel to Percy Beard Track Stadium at the University of Florida to participate in the Florida Relays. Capel will run the 100, 4x100 and 4x200 in the Class 4A/5A division.

"Basically, it's showtime for him right now," Byrd said. "He gets the big dogs Friday."

Capel has faced his share of big dogs this season and sent them home with their tails between their legs.

At South Lake last week, Capel and the 4x100 team were competing against defending regional champion and state runner-up Gainesville Eastside.

"Their No.

3 guy just completely blew past us," Capel said. "When I got the baton, they were 20 yards ahead of us, but I caught them and ran them down.

"I told Coach Byrd that before I left I was going to get him a win over Eastside, and we did."

With the win over the Mustangs Rams in the bag, Capel can focus on the relays and the state-level competition there.

"I think those are some of the best sprinters in the state up there," Byrd said. "Our area especially has some of the top sprinters and running with 5A, I don't know if they can test the 4A kids but they're tough too."

Capel has his goals.

"I definitely want to win the 100, big time," he said. "There'll be a lot of people up there, but if my mind is in it I should do all right."