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Packers know they're for real

After defending its title at the Osceola Relays last month, Largo coach Mike Beck said he did not know how good his girls team could be.

He had a better understanding Thursday night.

The Packers followed up their dominating performance at the Osceola Relays with another one at the Lady Tornado Invitational. They scored 162 points, 56 more than last year's champion, Seminole.

"I wished there were a few more teams here so we could see where we stack up," said Beck, whose team won the Lady Tornado for the second time in three seasons. "But I have more of a picture of where we are at. We're good in a lot of areas and the girls are starting to gain confidence, which helps."

With its versatile lineup, Largo won eight of the 17 events and finished in the top three in 14.

Deanna Drugash was the Packers' biggest scorer, winning three events in record fashion.

The junior won the 1,600 meters in a season-best 5 minutes, 32 seconds, ran a 2:30 anchor leg to secure first place in the 4x800 relay and set a personal record with a time of 12:03 in the 3,200 meters, good enough to beat out her nearest competitor by 33 seconds.

"(Deanna) had a great night and was the class of this meet," Beck said.

The only time Largo stumbled was when Ryan Matthews, one of the favorites in the 110 hurdles, got tangled up on the first hurdle, thereby preventing her from winning. Nevertheless, Matthews regained her footing enough to finish fifth. She also took first in the triple jump, second in the pole vault and third in the 300 hurdles.

It was that kind of night for the Packers.

Other winners from Largo were Abby Hunter in the long jump, Monique Hansen in the 100, Trish Feazell in the 200 and 4x100 relay.

"We've had a few things go wrong at meets, but that's okay," Beck said. "You want that stuff to happen early so you can learn from it and get better."

With first place wrapped up, the battle for second was between the Warhawks and Palm Harbor University. Although Seminole did not win an event, it claimed the runner-up spot thanks to its depth in the field events and distance races.

The Hurricanes, meanwhile, had quality over quantity. They scored 95 points, won six events and set school records in the 110 hurdles, 400 and 4x400 relay.

Most of Palm Harbor's points came from four girls _ Latecia Hardy, Courtney Lacroix, Lauren McNary and Kerrie Savery.

Hardy won the pole vault (9-0), 110 hurdles (16.09 seconds) and 300 hurdles (50.1 seconds).

Lacroix won the high jump, Savery won the 800 and McNary won the 400.

"It was a pretty good night for us considering our points came from so few," Hurricanes assistant coach Darryl Southard said. "Basically, our team was four people tonight."

Other winners included Clearwater's Nikki Morzenti in the discus and Pinellas Park's Dominque Warren in the shot put.

The next big challenge comes Tuesday at the Seminole Rotary Invitational, a meet that has 25 of the best teams in the Tampa Bay area.