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Bowerman continues to set pace

3A

A steady cold rain hardly fazed the Plant girls or King's Laura Bowerman on Saturday in the region meet.

The Panthers cruised to the title with 36 points, 65 ahead of second-place Sickles. Central followed in third to round out the bay area girls teams advancing to next week's state meet.

As for Bowerman, the Lion won by more than a minute, finishing in 19 minutes, 27.72 seconds.

"She was an awesome runner," said Vanguard's Kelly Parrish, who fourth finished in 20:42.74. "It was cool to run with her the first mile."

Plant was paced by four runners who finished in the top 10 with Paige Redfield (second, 20:31.82) and Mallory Giordano (fifth, 20:51,54) leading the way.

The top six teams plus the top 15 individuals advance to the state meet in Tampa.

Flagler Palm Coast was fourth followed by Belleview and Mainland.

As a team, King finished 10th and Durant was 12th.

In the boys race, defending state champion Steven Hassen of Vanguard finished third because he chose to not only tweak his team's performance, but start his preparation for a timely postseason push.

Vanguard was second, 29 points behind champion Flagler Palm Coast (42).

"Steven's definitely a team person," Vanguard coach James Travieso said. "He's always been more about the team than himself. I remember when he won the state championship. He had mixed feelings, happy because he won, but he was upset the team did not do that well. He knows this race helps him in terms of what he has coming up, and it helps the team."

Hassen finished the 3.1-mile course in 16:37.29, a step or two behind Sam Vazquez of Flagler Palm Coast (16:26.09) and Bryan Christian of Lyman (16:36.35).

"I just wanted to listen to my coach," Hassen said. "He wanted me to just go out with the guys the first 2 miles and see what happens. It's hard to hold back. But I trust my coach. I think it's going to work. It's like a car. You can only take so much gas out of the car."

Vanguard's fastest four runners, Paul Fitzpatrick (13th, 16:55), Cullan Jones (16th, 17:03.57), Jason Huffman (20th, 17:09.61) and Hassen, finished among the top 20.

The Plant boys advanced with a third-place finish (71) along with sixth-place King (152).

Other area teams included Armwood (ninth), Central (10th), Sickles (11th) and East Bay (13th).

_ OCALA STAR-BANNER

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