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Barons take care of business

Coaches will tell you that cross country is a team sport.

But the St. Petersburg Catholic boys didn't claim their first regional championship in 24 years without thinking as individuals.

St. Petersburg Catholic beat Indian Rocks Christian 54-71 for the Class A, Region 2 title Saturday at Central.

"They all stepped it up and beat who they had to beat," St. Petersburg Catholic coach Jeff Ehlert said of his runners.

"Each one was in a separate race."

St. Petersburg Catholic, ranked No. 2 in the state, will meet top-ranked Maclay at the state meet Nov. 17 at the Ed Radice Sports Complex in Tampa. The top six teams and 15 individuals advanced.

Berkeley Prep's Rolf Steier won his third consecutive individual title, finishing with a time of 15 minutes, 19 seconds. Admiral Farragut's John Biffar finished 35 seconds back.

Tony Cormier (third) was one of three St. Petersburg Catholic runners _ Brian Sullivan (fifth) and Samuel Secord (10th) were the others _ who finished in the top 10.

"They've done real well," Ehlert said.

"I'm proud of them all."

Eighth-grader Melissa Kotchman of Indian Rocks Christian won the girls race in 18:47, 23 seconds ahead of Frostproof's Angelica Gutierrez.

"I was glad, because I really didn't want her to beat me," said Kotchman, who finished second to Keswick Christian's Christa Benton last year.

Even without Benton, Keswick won the girls team title. Fourth-place Indian Rocks Christian and fifth-place Shorecrest also qualified for the state meet.

2A-3: Lyons wins, but Marauders finish 8th

CLEARWATER _ Kevin Lyons advanced to the state meet. His Clearwater Central Catholic teammates will not be joining him.

Lyons won the 3-mile race on his home course in a time of 15 minutes, 35 seconds. Sebring's Chase Travers was second in 16:17.

The Marauders missed out on advancing to Saturday's state meet at Ed Radice Sports Complex after finishing eighth with 210 points. The top six teams, plus the top 15 individuals, qualified for the state meet.

"I know this course so well, and I knew I could make my move on the hills," Lyons said.

"It takes a lot to work up those hills. I think I gained 10 yards there. Then, at the end, I just wanted to go for it."

Jesuit won the boys meet with 80 points, 39 ahead of second-place Fort Myers Bishop Verot. The extremely deep Tigers ran in a cluster throughout the race and let No. 7 runner Anthony Astrab set the pace.

Jesuit took places 14-20 with six runners finishing within two seconds of each other. Jesuit is the defending state champion. Blake finished 12th with 295 points.

Osceola's Joey Griffin qualified as an individual with a sixth-place finish in 17:41.

LaBelle won the girls title with 108 points. CCC was fifth with 148 points and qualified for the state meet. Osceola finished eighth with 192 points.

CCC's Apryl Wall finished second to Lakeland Kathleen's Laura Woznicki in 20:01. Wall, a sophomore, qualified for her second state meet.

"I wanted to get off to a fast start because it's kind of narrow at the start," Wall said. "Then I just wanted to stay close to the lead. I caught (Lake Wales' Tabitha Knauer) around the second mile, but I couldn't get ground on the Lakeland girl."

Osceola's Sarah Geigle finished 10th in 21:58.

_ RODNEY PAGE

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