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Thursday, Mar 26, 2015

Lady Eagles reach regionals; boys miss by one placing

Hernando Today correspondent

Published:   |   Updated: October 26, 2013 at 07:21 PM

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BROOKSVILLE - Twelve of Springstead's 14 distance runners had career efforts Thursday afternoon during the Class 3A, District 7 Cross Country Meets at McKethan Lake Park.

Amid overcast skies and much less humidity, 86 percent of the Eagle distance runners set personal bests along the flat 5K surface.

As expected in the female 3.1-mile race, Mitchell (54) and Land O' Lakes (58) finished a close 1-2.

Springstead, which was seeded third, finished third with 73 points highlighted by seven runners posting their seasonal bests.

The biggest surprise arrived when Belleview squeaked past Lecanto, 87-93, for the coveted fourth and final team berth into the Nov. 2 Class 3A, Region II Meet at Orlando-Lake Nona.

Rounding out the field was Sunlake (152) and Citrus (166) as both River Ridge and Fivay failed to post team scores.

The stellar local effort began on shaky ground for the Lady Eagles' first-year distance sensation, sophomore Amber Philpott.

As the starting pistol sounded, Philpott took a step and was "accidentally tripped."

Fortunately, a backup starter pistol went off signaling the entire 51-runner pack of a restart.

The diminutive Philpott, with open wounds across both elbows and visible scraps, somehow regrouped.

On the second start, she zoomed around the Brooksville course in a school and Hernando County record of 18:31.41 - nearly 30 seconds faster than last week's previous county mark of 19:01.68 - also set at McKethan.

Though Philpott was the main headliner, she had plenty of company from her teammates as each set new 5K standards.

Two-time Hernando Today Runner of the Year, junior Tiana Newton, finished 12th (21:13.28), followed by sophomore Joy Jackson in 15th (21:44.01), senior Alexandrea Zieman in 20th (22:27.18), freshman Toni Pandolfo in 31st (23:05.48), sophomore Julia Diven in 35th (23:42.50) and junior Amanda Santana in 49th (26:06.23).

"It just feels good to get to regionals," explained the 15-year-old Philpott following her school-record fourth individual victory in six meets. "That was our first goal. Even though I ran pretty well today, I can't be satisfied; I've got to keep pushing."

Philpott detailed her harrowing start.

"After I got tripped, I was just laying there hoping I'd hear another pistol," she said. "Thank God, there was. I was trying to hold back the tears. I was hurting all over. After the restart, I was hoping it wouldn't affect me."

On the team's first regional trip in three seasons, "I knew we had a chance," she said. "I'm so glad we pulled it off."

"I'm so proud of Amber," added the 16-year-old Newton. "That 18:31 leaves me speechless. I never thought it would happen. All the credit belongs to Amber."

On a personal level, "Today was not as good as I wanted, but I did better than I expected," pointed out Newton. "After being sick last week, I felt really good. The cooler temperatures really helped."

On the team's placing, "It's just amazing. We've all gotten so much better," noted Newton. "My goal next week is to reach the 20s."

Seventh-year SHS skipper Joel Myers had plenty of reason to smile.

"I definitely think running here last week really helped us this time," acknowledged Myers on the home-course edge. "And the conditions were much cooler than last week, which also helped. A little less humidity made a big difference."

Evaluating Philpott's record-shattering performance, "Right now, I'd say she's in the hunt for a state medal," described Myers. "All this after getting tripped was remarkable. These things happen in cross country. The trip was not intentional; that's why it's great to have a back-up (starter's) gun.

"Give Amber credit, she shook it off really well. Today was one of those days where all my girls had their best days. I know I couldn't ask for more; but regionals is next and we have to have that same-type effort next week."

In the boys varsity race, Land O' Lakes bunched its top three runners 1-2-3 across the finish line to solve Lecanto, 25-77.

After the Panthers followed Belleview (98), Mitchell (110), Springstead (136), Citrus (162), Sunlake (180), River Ridge (200), Fivay (238) and Zephyrhills (292).

For the second week in a row, Springstead skipper Brandon Wright's thinclads featured a terrific effort by their top four runners.

Senior James Amodie placed a team-leading seventh (17:16.52) followed by senior Jai Jackson in 17th (17:36.66), sophomore Jeff Amodie in 22nd (17:53.85), junior Josh Page in 32nd (18:24.19), senior  Dennis Carroll in 53rd (20:17.30, 66), senior Hank Deslaurier in 66th (22:31.93) and sophomore Vasu Malhotra in 67th (23:15.91).

Incredibly, both Amodie brothers, Jackson, Page and Deslaurier each notched personal-best efforts to the delight of Coach Wright.

"Five guys PR'd (ran a personal record) including our top four, that's an outstanding effort," declared Coach Wright. "Again, we missed out on advancing by one place. I just can't find fault here.

"It's frustrating," he added. "We've closed the gap (on making regionals every year). But I don't have any regrets today. How could I? We've got two guys coming back from the top four which is a leg up on next year and our top four runners are also running track."

On the day's highlight, "It's great to see James (Amodie) reach regionals," he said. "He's been recovering from injury and gotten better each time out. I just wish our other senior captain (Jai) would have qualified, too. He missed out by two spots."

"I can't complain," said the 17-year-old Jackson. "I PR'd today and cut nearly 30 seconds off my best time. I tried my absolute hardest. I'm pulling for James; he was incredible today. I'm so proud of him and how the rest of the team battled."

"This was the hardest run I've been on," explained the 17-year-old Amodie, who has been battling a right calf/shin injury. "Today was 'Go big, or go home.' I ran as hard as I could. The key was I finished real strong. Though we didn't make it as a team, I'm not disappointed; the guys worked as hard as they could."

Final 3A-7 Girls Cross Country Team Scores:


1. Mitchell (MIT)# 54

2. Land O' Lakes (LOL)# 58

3. Springstead (SPG)# 73

4. Belleview (BELL)# 87

5. Lecanto (LEC) 93

6. Sunlake (SNL) 152

7. Citrus (CIT) 166

8. River Ridge (RR) NTS

8. Fivay (FIV) NTS

# Denotes qualified for Class 3A, Region II Meet @ Orlando-Lake Nona

Final Top 15 Individuals (All regional qualifiers)


1. Amber Philpott SPG 18:31.41$

2. Emily Kerns MIT 19:16.05

3. Claire Farnsworth LEC 19:50.33

4. Isabella Brown LOL 20:17.89

5. Alyssa Weber CIT 20:18.90

6. Leah Thompson MIT 20:39.58

7. Jordan Spicer MIT 20:56.30

8. Montana Gottman RR 21:10.45

9. Lauren Hale LOL 21:11.66

10. Leely Pisczek BELL 21:12.07

11. Audrey Vero BELL 21:12.69

12. Tiana Newton SPG 21:13.28

13. Jessie Boykin MIT 21:17.70

14. Noemi Anaya LOL 21:43.36

15. Joy Jackson SPG 21:44.01

$ Denotes new Hernando County 5K record, eclipsing Philpott's previous mark of 19:01.68.

SPRINGSTEAD (73) - 1. Amber Philpott 18:31.41$, 12. Tiana Newton 21:13.28, 15. Joy Jackson 21:44.01, 20. Alexandrea Zieman 22:27.18, 31. Toni Pandolfo 23:05.48, 35. Julia Diven 23:42.50, 49. Amanda Santana 26:06.23.

Final 3A-7 Boys Cross Country Team Scores:


1. Land O' Lakes (LOL)# 25

2. Lecanto (LEC)# 77

3. Belleview (BELL)# 98

4. Mitchell (MIT)# 110

5. Springstead (SPG) 136

6. Citrus (CIT) 162

7. Sunlake (SNL) 180

8. River Ridge (RR) 200

9. Fivay (FIV) 238

10. Zephyrhills (ZEP) 292

# Denotes qualified for Class 3A, Region II Meet @ Orlando-Lake Nona

Final Top 15 Individuals (All regional qualifiers)


1. Travis Nichols LOL 15:38.62

2. Tyler Stahl LOL 15:46.42

3. Jake Poore LOL 15:48.72

4. Stephen Brown SNL 16:29.53

5. Redondo Beauplan BELL 16:39.32

6. Sam Alford LEC 16:40.69

7. Michael Lindsey LEC 16:44.45

8. Steven Barnabel LOL 16:45.64

9. Ken Walker FIV 16:49.07

10. Troy Shea MIT 16:56.58

11. Donald Swartz LOL 17:16.02

12. James Amodie SPG 17:16.52

13. Austin Dotson LOL 17:19.12

14. Trevor Nichols LOL 17:25.76

15. Cameron Grant CIT 17:29.69

SPRINGSTEAD (136) - 7. James Amodie 17:16.52, 17. Jai Jackson 17:36.66, 22. Jeff Amodie 17:53.85, 32. Josh Page 18:24.19, 53. Dennis Carroll 20:17.30, 66. Hank Deslaurier 22:31.93, 67. Vasu Malhotra 23:15.91.

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