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Leopard's first victory memorable

Hernando's Leela Hadsock will never forget her first cross country victory.

Hadsock captured the girls small school race Saturday in the flrunners.com Invitational at Ed Radice Sports Complex. She was the lone North Suncoast runner to win one of the eight races over the 5K course.

Hernando also won the team championship, defeating Lake Highland 53-65.

"This is really nice," Hadsock said. "It's my first cross country win ever and there was a lot of good competition here. I was very happy with the race I ran."

Hadsock's time of 20 minutes, 29.33 seconds was 10 seconds better than Lake Highland's Jessica Prendergas. Crystal River's Holly Van Sicklen was fourth, Kaela Fitzpatrick of Citrus sixth and Hernando's Danielle Coopman seventh.

Hernando nearly pulled off a team sweep as the boys finished second to Jacksonville Bolles 95-98 thanks to top-10 performances by Ben Martucci (third) and Bret Chapman (10th).

A record-breaking 4,150 runners participated in 16 races over the two-day event.

In the featured Race of Champions, Flagler Palm Coast's Justin Harbor (15:36.74) and Oviedo's Jenny Barringer (17:54.81) were winners. The Winter Park boys and Miami Our Lady of Lourdes girls took team titles.

In the Race of Champions, Mitchell's Jeff Masterson placed fifth at 15:54.31.

"It was a little disappointing," Masterson said. "When the group in front of me took off, I didn't go with them and they pulled away. That's something I've got to learn from in the future."

Steven Bell of Land O'Lakes was second in the boys invitational to Scott Mackley of Kathleen. Bell finished 19 seconds behind, in 16:32.86.

The Lecanto girls finished third in the Invitational race behind champion Lake Brantley. Lecanto was led by Taylor Cooke's ninth-place effort. Wesley Chapel's Stephanie Amerman was seventh.

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