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Football players help put Largo on the fast track

Largo is known for its strong group of distance runners.

New coach Rick Rodriguez has helped provide everything else.

Rodriguez, who also coaches football, encouraged his players to come out for track this spring. It was a formula he used during his days at Clearwater, where he won numerous district and conference titles.

He ended up with 46 athletes, double the number of participants last season. The results have shown, and the Packers relied on their depth to win the inaugural Richard Allen Invitational Relay.

Largo scored 101 points, 24{ more than runner-up St. Petersburg.

"We've got a lot of athletes who are committed to track and staying with the program," Rodriguez said. "It was the same deal at Clearwater. You get the football players. It helps them build confidence and character."

Arsenio Corbin, the Packers' MVP last season, won the high jump (5 feet, 10 inches) and teamed with Omar Lawrence, Leonard Long and Jesse Bennett to win the 4x200 (1:33.50).

"The 4x200 was really a surprise for us," Rodriguez said. "That was nice."

The only surprises in the distance events were the times. Danny Bauer ran the 3200 in 10:02.1, shaving eight seconds off his season's best. In the 4x800, Bauer, Wes Morris, Dave Harrington and Matt Timm ran a 8:25.6, 24 seconds faster than Clearwater's previous county mark.

But it was Largo's depth that separated it from the field. The Packers scored in all 12 events and had multiple place-winners in six of them.

"My assistant coaches, Leviticus McKinnon (sprints) and Dave Koehler (distances) have really helped me out," Rodriguez said. "It's been a total group effort."

St. Petersburg won the 4x100, 4x400 and the pole vault to secure the runner-up spot.

Dixie Hollins' Kevin Marion won the long jump with a county-best leap of 23 feet, 9{ inches, and he won the 100 in 10.72.

Garrett Johnson of Tampa Baptist entered the meet unattatched and won the shotput with a throw of 53 feet, 6 inches.