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TEAMS AT A GLANCE

BISHOP McLAUGHLIN

COACH: Brian Schmidt (first season).

STADIUM: 13651 Hays Road, Spring Hill.

OUTLOOK: Schmidt has the dubious task of building a program from scratch, but he has helped build four programs. The former USF and Gulf coach hopes to replicate a plan he used to help construct the Bulls. The Hurricanes will focus solely on running. That means no jumps, throws or vaults, and no home meets. Schmidt believes Bishop McLaughlin will establish itself as a quality running program. Meanwhile, he hopes the school will choose to funnel its finances into a rubber track, which would be the first of its kind at a Pasco County high school.

SCHMIDT SAYS: "We're taking an approach we did at USF. We didn't have a track program. We established a national cross country program. Got known across the country for having runners and no field events. We'll do the same thing here."

GULF

COACHES: Dean Lofton (19th season) and Valeria Lofton (first season).

STADIUM: 5355 School Road, New Port Richey.

LAST SEASON: Boys and girls finished eighth at SAC. Girls finished fifth at district, 20th at regionals. Boys finished sixth at district, 21st at regionals.

KEY LOSS: Nichole Berkey, Jr.

KEY ATHLETES: Boys - Jason Debeamont, Sr., (sprints, hurdles, PV); Tommy Accaria, Sr., (distance); Marcus Neeson, Jr., (jumps); David Dorsey, (PV); Ricky Duran, Sr., (sprints). Girls - Danielle Florey, Sr. (distance); Jessica Peck, So. (jumps, relays); Jaci Pustelnik, So. (middle distance); Carmen Figeroa, So. (PV, SP, DC); Nikki Johnson, So. (hurdles, jumps).

OUTLOOK: Talented key athletes in several events should translate into points. For the boys, Lofton welcomed a handful of promising kids, including Pennsylvania transfer, sophomore Josh Roberts. Debeamont returns as the favorite to win the SAC pole vault title. The girls suffered a key loss when Berkey opted to sit out this season. Berkey was good for roughly 12-15 points per meet.

VALERIA LOFTON SAYS: "I expect a lot of solid performances. We're lacking in depth, but we have a lot of individuals that can score big points with second and third places."

HUDSON

COACHES: Frank Buono (fourth season) and Richard Stokes (third season).

STADIUM: 14410 Cobra Way, Hudson.

LAST SEASON: Boys and girls finished ninth at SAC, seventh at district. Boys finished 28th at regionals.

KEY LOSSES: Nate Toole, Brian Kirby, Kanya McDougal, Cinnamon Arnold.

KEY ATHLETES: Boys - Jacob McFadden, Jr. (sprint, jumper); Joe Farver, Sr. (jumper); Joe Buono, So. (PV); Greg Moore, Jr. (distance), James Pinto, Jr. (middle distance). Girls - Amanda Schorel, Sr. (sprints); Bria Noto, So. (DC, SP); Heather Paone, Jr. (PV); Cynthia Harris, So. (sprints, hurdles).

OUTLOOK: Low numbers contributed to Hudson's struggles last season, and might hurt the team again. The girls will lean on their sprinters to gain points. The boys have an even smaller group with just 12 members. Many of them split time between track and weightlifting. That makes Buono's goal simple - qualify as many people as possible for regionals.

STOKES SAYS: "As a team we'll have some small meets when we go up against one or two teams. The big meets we won't score that high because we don't have enough girls in enough events."

LAND O'LAKES

COACHES: Al Claggett (29th season) and Rock Ridgeway (11th season).

STADIUM: 20325 Gator Lane, Land O'Lakes.

LAST SEASON: Boys sixth at SAC, fifth at district, 15th at regionals. Girls seventh at SAC, sixth at district, 26th at regionals.

KEY LOSSES: Justin Giddens, Steven Lang.

KEY ATHLETES: Boys - Steven Bell, Sr. (distance); Jake Proudfoot, So. (distance); Mike Toro, Jr. (sprints and jumps); Jerome Blyden, Jr. (sprints, jumps); Lee Smith, Jr. (DC, SP); Andy Slaven , Jr. (hurdles); Julius Filpot, Sr. (sprints, jumps); Felix Soto, Fr. (distance), Tony White, Jr. (PV). Girls - Sarah Saavedre, So. (sprint, PV); Diana Casellas, Jr. (sprints); Emily Sea, So. (sprints)l; Jessica Schmidt, Sr. (LJ, TJ) Francis Schmidt, So. (LJ, TJ); Meredith Keppel, Jr. (distance); Melanie Wong, Sr. (distance), Leandra Mikos, Jr. (distance); Addis Daniels, So. (thrower); Tiara Glover, Sr. (thrower); Heather Johnson, So. (thrower).

OUTLOOK: Claggett expects his distance runners to score big points based on their success in cross country. The girls' greatest loss is Melanie Moyer, who will have surgery on her foot, ending her season.

RIDGEWAYS SAYS: "I have a lot of numbers and can fill a lot of events. I just hope we improve and can compete to where we finish in the upper third."

MITCHELL

COACHES: Tim Masterson (first season) and Jeff Leavy (first season).

STADIUM: 2323 Little Road, New Port Richey.

LAST SEASON: Boys fourth at SAC, second at district, 11th at regionals. Girls fifth at SAC, third at district, 18th at regionals.

KEY LOSSES: Jeff Masterson, John Tuccio, Anthony Napolitano, J.J. Campbell.

KEY ATHLETES: Boys - Jeff Surmin, Sr. (distance); Anthony Placeres, Sr. (sprints, hurdles); Gus Luna, Sr. (distance); Jeff Keough, Jr. (jumps, distance); Chase Carter, Jr. (jumps, throws). Girls - Shauna Vatovac, N/A (sprints); Madeleine Wagner, Jr. (distance); Alyssa Updegrave, So. (distance).

OUTLOOK: Masterson believes this will be a year to build for the future. Leavy, a 35-year coaching veteran from Illinois, will turn his attention to mentoring distance runners and jumpers. The team will split into groups instead of divide by gender. Surmin returns as the top distance runner and team leader. Mitchell will cope early with the losses of Jessica Jimenez (torn anterior cruciate ligament) and Kara Menice (broken arm).

LEAVY SAYS: "My philosophy is to get better every day and let the chips fall where they may. We haven't had any competition. Until we do we'll take it one meet at a time. They're going to get better."

PASCO

COACHES: Grant Young (third season) and Norman Graham (second season).

STADIUM: 36850 State Road 52, Dade City.

LAST SEASON: Boys seventh at SAC, fifth at district. Girls fourth at SAC, fourth at district, ninth at regionals.

KEY LOSSES: Chance Finlay, Tony Smith, Jenny Peters.

KEY ATHLETES: Boys - Ray Johnston, Sr. (sprints); Demetrius Larry, So. (jumps), Markus Tookes, Jr. (sprints); Adam Plazewski, Sr. (middle distance); Anthony Cicanese, Sr. (DC, SP). Girls - Molly Barthle, Sr. (middle distance, jumps); Isaria Ranson, Sr. (middle distance, jumps); Leeann Eble (distance).

OUTLOOK: Pasco has a deeper roster with 25-30 girls. Graham is excited to see how many of the younger ones adapt from middle school to high school track. The biggest addition is Eble, who made her mark with a berth in the state meet for cross country. With Barthle and Ranson, Pasco should contend for a conference title.

GRAHAM SAYS: "We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores. It'll be interesting to see how some of them make the transition from middle school to high school.

RIDGEWOOD

COACHES: Sue Vien (23rd season) and Brian Wachtel (first season).

STADIUM: 7650 Orchid Lake Road, New Port Richey.

LAST SEASON: Boys and girls finished second at SAC. Boys finished third at district, 25th at region. Girls finished second at district, 13th at regionals.

KEY LOSSES: Ashley Krupinski, Nina Bonaparte, Latecia Thompson.

KEY ATHLETES: Boys - Michael Deleon, Sr. (middle distance); Anthony Galatolo, Sr (distance); Justin Coffee, Sr. (sprints, PV); Josh Curtis, Jr. (throws); Mike Kern, Jr. (distance); Paul Walsh, Jr. (sprints, middle distance, PV); John Walsh, Sr. (SP). Girls - Heather Bertling, Sr. (sprints); Keari Brink, So. (sprints, PV); Beth Bulter, So. (jumps); Stephanie Fleres, Jr. (jumps, distance); Ashley Haggard, Jr. (distance, PV); Alexis Heymann, Sr. (jumps, middle distance); Delia Madison, So. (sprints, jumps); Meghan Seltman, Jr. (throws); Julie Widney, Sr. (sprints); Katie Gaglioti, So. (hurdles).

OUTLOOK: Vien noticed gains in strength and technique from last year's group. She believes the girls will be a threat to score in virtually every event and should be a threat to win conference and district titles. She's also pleased with a group of newcomers that includes freshmen Ashley Brown, Amy Lord and Brittany Ramey.

VIEN SAYS: "I think they needed to work hard last year. We're going to be good in all the events, solid in throws and good in the sprints."

RIVER RIDGE

COACHES: Dave Heywood (15th season) and Susan Rehermann (second season).

STADIUM: 11646 Town Center Rd., New Port Richey.

LAST SEASON: Boys fifth at SAC, fourth at district, 21st at region. Girls sixth at SAC, fourth at district, 16th at regionals.

KEY LOSSES: Justin Coyle, Sam Bell, Zach McDevitt, Patrick Morris.

KEY ATHLETES: Boys - Adam Bulgrin, Sr. (DC, SP); Alan Clyap, Sr. (middle distance); Bryce Sliz, Jr. (middle distance); Adam Heywood, Jr. (distance); Jeff Pendland, Sr. (distance); Brian Lewandowski, Jr. (hurdles, sprints). Girls - Stephanie Konter, Sr. (distance); Shelby Homko, Jr. (hurdles); Julie Lewandowski, So. (sprints), Elisha Perry, Jr. (hurdles); Shannon Mahoney, So. (middle distance); Kayla McDonald, Jr. (PV); Annettee Porebski, So. (middle distance, PV); Diana Cannon, Jr. (DC, SP).

OUTLOOK: Heywood expects to rebound after the program's worst season during his tenure. There are more athletes on the team with a lot of inexperienced people still to be evaluated. The boys have greater goals with aspirations of challenging for an SAC title despite the loss of some key people.

REHERMANN SAYS: "We have a young team this year, but we'd really like to finish at least second in the conference. They're learning. There's a lot of teaching this year."

WESLEY CHAPEL

COACHES: Brian Colding (fifth season) and Kristi Frye (third season).

STADIUM: 30651 Wells Road, Wesley Chapel.

LAST SEASON: Boys and girls claimed SAC and district titles. Girls won region title; boys finished third.

KEY LOSSES: Aaron Dickler, Nigel Bryant, Zach Carter, Stephanie Amerman, Jasmine Cabrera, Kevin Forstad, Jamie Parslow.

KEY ATHLETES: Boys - Chandler Preddy, Sr. (jumps, hurdles); Dhanial Murally, Jr. (distance); Ryan Stiftinger, Jr. (distance); Vince Chalecki, Jr. (throws); Michael Alvin, Jr. (sprints, jumps), Keonte Thompson, Jr. (sprints, jumps); ; Rahsad Cole, Sr. (sprint); Bob Leidel, Sr. (PV). Girls - Shandra Brooks, Sr. (DC, SP); Jerrica Cabrera, Sr. (sprints, hurdles); Melissa Sams, Sr. (sprints); Janice Williams, Sr. (sprinter); Jasmine Pleasant, So. (sprints), Pamela Guertin, Sr. (PV).

OUTLOOK: Wesley Chapel's relay teams took a hit to graduation. That said, the girls return virtually everyone from their region title team. Colding is pleased with the addition of coach Tyler Garrett, a former Tennessee thrower, who is working with discus and shot putters. Once a weakness, Colding believes throwing is now an assest.

COLDING SAYS: "It's nerve-racking before you get out there and see the team. I feel this way every season. We just won't know until we get out there. The girls should be fine."

ZEPHYRHILLS

COACHES: Dave Jones (third season) and Michael Stanton (fifth season).

STADIUM: 6335 12th St., Zephyrhills.

LAST SEASON: Boys and girls finished third at SAC. Boys finished third at district, sixth at regionals. Girls won district, finished 10th at regionals.

KEY LOSSES: Jose Espinoza, Santana Lennon.

KEY ATHLETES: Boys - Bryan Thomas, Sr. (spints, jumps); Jason Wells, Al Sampson, Sederrik Cunningham, Jr. (spints); Jarrod Pinnegar, Jr. (distance), Andrew Smith, Jr. (DC, SP), Cannelious Ansley, Jr. (sprints). Girls - Marta Heidenreich, Sr. (hurdles, throws); Kristen Vollmer, Sr. (sprints, hurdles); Melly Guzman, Sr. (sprints, jumps).

OUTLOOK: Jones believes he has one of his best teams since his return three seasons ago. The Bulldogs have a powerful 4x100 team anchored by Thomas. There's also the addition of throwers that have been lacking in previous seasons. The girls have a lot of potential despite losing Lennon to Gulf. Stanton expects to compete for the district title.

JONES SAYS: "We've gotten better and better each year. Two years ago we won the first district boys championship. Last year, we had the best finish in the state championships. This year, I think we have one of our better teams."

- IZZY GOULD, Times staff writer

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