It wasn't exactly a run for the border, but Nicole Scott still made her usual post-race trip to Taco Bell Wednesday evening. The Lakewood senior has made a habit out of visiting the fast food restaurant with teammate Daniel Mencher for much of the season.
This time, though, she didn't need to bring her purse. The friends had a bet that if either could win the Pinellas County Athletic Conference title, the other would splurge for the food.
Though Scott said the thought never crossed her mind during the race at Crescent Lake Park, it might have motivated her subconsciously as she turned in the fastest county time of the year _ 18 minutes, 33 seconds. After the race, she was ready for some grub.
"Now I am," she said. "This is what I wanted."
Scott kept the girls individual crown at Lakewood for another year. She was greeted with a congratulatory hug from last year's winner, Emily Saunders, now at the University of Tampa, after Scott fell to the ground in victory. Saunders gave Scott a few words of wisdom before the race.
"She knows I get nervous before big races and she helped me with that," Scott said.
"I'm so proud of her," Saunders said.
Scott's victory did not come unchallenged. Seminole's Misty Harper made Scott work every step of the way. Harper set the early pace, but Scott was one step back. After the second mile, Harper opened up a 10-yard lead which Scott didn't close until the final \-mile.
"She got too far ahead of me at the Largo Invitational and I didn't want that to happen again," Scott said. "I was just trying to stay with her."
Harper finished second, 5 seconds behind.
SPEEDY SEAN: In the boys race, East Lake's Sean McCabe went out blazing after the gun and left the rest of the field to fight for second place. The senior usually takes it a bit easier in the first half of the race, but said 10 minutes before the race he decided to try something different. McCabe, who finished second in the conference last year, won in 15:33, his second-fastest time of the year.
"I wanted to change my style," McCabe said. "I wasn't even sure I would win going into it."
A handful of runners, including Dunedin's Ray Blanchard and Seminole's Mike Kyne occupied the second spot at some time during the race before a late surge by St. Petersburg's Nate Hansen. The Green Devil junior was fourth after 1 mile and third after the second mile.
"The first mile we went out faster than normal," Hansen said. "I recovered a lot and had a real good race."
TEAM TITLES: For the third straight year, the Seminole boys dominated the race as the Warhawks beat second-place Largo by 56 points. All five Seminole scorers made the all-conference first or second team and were awarded plaques and a team trophy. Jason Nymark led the Warhawks with a third-place finish.
The Largo girls placed four runners in the top 14 and snatched the PCAC title away from defending champion Lakewood. Kaya Blauvelt took third for the Packers, who were 23 points better than East Lake. The Eagles were led by Jessica Collier, Leah Weiss and Michelle Rooney, who earned 8-10 respectively.
ALL-CONFERENCE: The top seven finishers were automatically first team all-conference. For the boys they were: McCabe, Hansen, Nymark, Mike Kyne of Seminole, Mike Moore of Seminole, Ray Blanchard of Dunedin and Dan Deschamplain of Largo.
For the girls: Scott, Harper, Blauvelt, Sarah Kassebaum of Clearwater, Natalie Kozak of Largo, Stephanie DeBiasio of St. Petersburg and Agnieszka Zielinski of Northeast.
JUNIOR CHAMPS: Palm Harbor University freshman Amy Steiner, who has run some varsity races this year, had to settle for running in the junior varsity race. She won it, but would have prefered having a shot at a top-seven finish in the varsity race.
"I would have been happier with fifth in the varsity," Steiner said, "because first JV does nothing for me."
Seminole's Tyler Parhalo led a Warhawk pack that occupied the top four spots. He won in 17:02.
_ ERIC VICIAN