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Bears show strength in winning district titles

Central High may be less than a decade old, but apparently it's never too soon to start making some history.

Thursday night at the Class 4A, District 8 track championships, the Central boys and girls teams won their first district titles. For the girls, it marked the third time in less than a month they have beaten county rival Hernando: at the county, conference and now district meets. The Central boys exacted revenge on an injured Hernando team that defeated them by half a point at the conference meet on April 25.

Coach Vic Cervizzi's boys pulled out the 114-112 win with quality and quantity. In nearly every event, if the Bears did not come in first, they had several athletes score points by filling out the second to fifth places.

"This is the strongest team I've ever had," Cervizzi said. "I've had faster sprinters and longer jumpers, but what helped us was our depth."

The girls team blew out its county rival for the second meet in less than a week. The Bears edged Lecanto 159.5-154.5 in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference meet while Hernando scored just 91. Thursday, the Leopards were shut out in the last three individual events as Central won 104-83. For coach Rick Munford, winning the regional May 8 is the next goal.

"We had three goals at the beginning of the year and we reached them all," Munford said, referring to the wins at the county, conference and district meets. "We know we're a little short, but we're not giving up on (regionals). We want to win."

Here are some of the highlights (and lowlights) of the district meet:

+ Fans saw John Capel, the first national-caliber sprinter to come out of Hernando County, finish his high school career by not qualifying in the 100 meters. Capel was running with a pulled right hamstring, aggravated at last weekend's GCAC meet, and finished second to last in his heat. He cannot return to state to defend his titles in the 100 and the 200, where he set a Class 4A record of 21.12 in the 200. Capel, who usually competes in and wins as many as five events for the Leopards, might have been the difference in the district meet.

+ Central sprinter Daisha Holland set a school record of 25.50 in the 200 meters.

+ With one event to go for the boys, the 4x400 relay, the Bears led Hernando by just four points. The Bears would tie in the meet if they finished third. Anthony Daniel picked a penny off the ground and told Cervizzi he would carry it for good luck. When he couldn't remember if it was heads or tails up (it's supposedly bad luck if it's tails up) Cervizzi told him to toss it. Central finished second in the race, less than 2 seconds ahead of third place.

+ The Hernando boys weren't just without Capel. Senior sprinter Eric Kincade also missed the bus _ literally. He missed the team bus and arrived late for his event. After an athlete misses his first event, he is disqualified for the rest of his events. The sprinter also could have meant the difference for Hernando.

+ Central's two first-year pole vaulters, Riley Parrish and Jason Snyder, set personal bests in qualifying for the regional. Snyder finished first with a height of 10 feet 6 and Snyder came in second with a 10-0.

+ Hernando shot put and discus thrower Lachelle Inmon seems on pace to challenge for a state title in both events. In the shot put, she hurled it 37 feet, 9 inches, nearly 10 feet farther than her closest competitor. In the discus, her throw of 93 feet, 4 inches was better than second by almost 4 feet.