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Fast times, not big money motivate Central coach

Vic Cervizzi considered the hours he spends with the sport and the salary he receives and concluded that he makes 1{ cents an hour as the Central boys coach.

"That doesn't buy a hot dog for your dinner table," he said.

Fortunately for him, Cervizzi has better reasons to stay in coaching _ such as the six seniors who will lead the Bears into the state meet.

Trever Scales, Aaron Henley, Joey Costanzo, Adam Dixon and Justin Wakeley will join junior Kurt Lee and freshman Bryan Gordon. Joel Crandall, the team's No. 2 runner, will not compete because of tendinitis in his right calf.

"It's the kids that keep you in it," Cervizzi said. "I've had them for two sports (cross country and track) every year for three to four years."

With a fifth-place showing at last week's regional meet, Central's seniors advanced to state for the third time in four seasons.

Scales led the seniors with a 10th-place finish. He was followed by Henley (26th), Costanzo (33rd), Dixon (34th) and Wakeley (73rd).

The runners maintain a tight pack off the course, too.

All are good students. They eat together. They accompany each other to the movies. They double- or triple-dated at the prom.

This week, they agreed to dye their hair blond.

Cervizzi has a rule against outlandish hair colors or styles but made an exception.

"They're trying to get me next," the coach said. "I tell them the only way they do that is if they finish top three in the state."

Scales is a quiet leader who aches inside when he doesn't run well. Henley is heavily involved with his church and leads team prayers.

Crandall keeps things light. Costanzo inspired his teammates by overcoming allergies, asthma and a problem with the valve in his heart.

Dixon, a ROTC leader off the course, defers to the faster runners on it. Wakeley, who will run in Crandall's place, is the most vocal leader.

Come next spring, Cervizzi will be sorry to see them go _ blond hair and all.

"I've got another season with them in track, so it's not going to be as hard now," he said. "But in the spring, knowing that we have to build the cross country program all over again, that's a tough job. But that's what we're trying to do."

Even if it pays just 1{ cents an hour.

Staff writer Frank Pastor can be reached at (800) 333-7505, Ext. 1430. Send e-mail to pastorsptimes.com.

STATE CROSS COUNTRY MEET

WHEN: Saturday.

WHERE: Ed Radice Sports Complex, Tampa.

SCHEDULE: Class A girls, 8 a.m.; A boys, 8:35; 2A girls, 9:05; 2A boys, 9:40; 3A girls, 10:10; 3A boys, 10:45; 4A girls, 11:15; 4A boys, 11:50.

ADMISSION: $6.

LOCAL BOYS: Central (3A) _ Trever Scales, Aaron Henley, Kurt Lee, Joey Costanzo, Adam Dixon, Bryan Gordon, Justin Wakeley, Joel Crandall (injured).

LOCAL GIRL: Springstead (3A) _ Lindsay Boldt.

THE SKINNY: Defending Class 3A girls and boys champ Jacksonville Bishop Kenny dropped to 2A this season, widening the field. Central advanced to the state meet for the ninth time in 10 seasons after placing fifth in its regional. The Bears will be without No. 2 runner Crandall, who has tendinitis in his right calf. Springstead's Boldt is making her third trip to state and second in 3A. She placed 71st in 3A as a sophomore and 19th in 2A last year. Boldt advanced with a 10th-place regional showing.

DIRECTIONS: Take Interstate 75 S to I-275 S. Exit at Bearss Avenue and head west. Bearss becomes Erlich Road. Continue west until it ends at Sickles High School. Turn right onto Gunn Highway. Go north to the first light, then turn left onto S Mobley. Go west about 1.8 miles. The park is on the left.

_ FRANK PASTOR

Up next:HORSE RACING

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