By Jeff Odom
As he caught sight of the finish line, Matt Magee knew he had to sprint to pass the leader if he wanted to take the top spot at the 27th Lutz Independence Day 5K.
With every ounce of strength left inside of him at the end of the boiling hot race on July 4, the Steinbrenner High senior hustled by 38-year-old Andrew Chandler to cross the line in first place by a single footstep. Both finished with a time of 16 minutes 15 seconds.
“Well, it was a fast race, but the last 100 meters I just kind of out kicked him and sprinted past him,” Magee said. “He was like 30 feet in front of me (at one point), and I knew to get ahead of him I would have to give it all I got.”
For Chandler, it was his second time competing in the race, both of which have ended in close second-place finishes for him.
“He just had all of the momentum,” Chandler said. “I couldn’t keep (Magee) off of me at the end there, and he used everything he had to get past me.”
Magee, a member of the Warriors’ 4×800-meter regional champion relay team, said it was the first time he has ever won an event at the individual level. He added that it felt good to do it in front of his teammates.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Magee said. “It’s pretty great to get something like this for the first time.”
His Steinbrenner teammate Tyler Lima, a senior, finished third, while Land O’ Lakes High junior Tyler Stahl took fourth. Tommy Brown, 37, rounded out the top five.
The top female finisher was Terri Rejambal, who placed 20th overall with an 18:43.
This year’s 5K race featured a record 596 athletes, more than one hundred more than 2011.
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