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Nash Higgins meet memorable for Wharton

© St. Petersburg Times
published March 10, 2002

TAMPA -- Saturday's Nash Higgins Relays will be remembered for a variety of accomplishments.

Wharton's boys won't forget the annual meet at Leto because Jesuit snapped the Wildcats' two-year run as champions, edging them for a six-point win. By contrast, the Wharton girls shocked favored Plant as the Wildcats claimed a 16-point win over the Panthers.

Jesuit's boys won despite claiming just one event title (2-mile Invitational), while the Wharton girls won a meet-best four events: the 1,320 and 400 shuttle hurdles, and the high and triple jumps.

"If Plant runs like they should have, they win by 25 points," Wharton coach Wes Newton said. "The best we were hoping for was second."

Newton said the difference was the field events.

The Wildcats improved from last week's Manuel-Griffin Relays, where they finished second to Plant by three points.

Senior Kendra Smith led Wharton, which finished third last year, and earned the Female Performer of the Meet award. She won the triple jump (37 feet, 8 inches) and high jump (5-2), and was on the winning 4x1320 and 4x100 relay teams. She also finished second in the long jump.

Teammates Kristen Flemming and Candice Dupree also cleared 5-2 in the high jump for the Wildcats. Sophomore Natalie Moser stood out for Wharton in the hurdles and pole vault.

"We knew they would be hard to beat," Newton said of the Panthers.

"We knew we had to beat them at their best events."

The Riverview girls, which won the relays last year by a half-point, took third with 70 points -- 18 behind Wharton. The Sharks won the discus with a three-person combined distance of 265-6.

There also were outstanding individual performances on the boys side.

Bloomingdale senior Jon Miller easily won the pole vault, clearing 15 feet. Then, unaware of Dave Lawson's Hillsborough County record of 15-6 set in the 1980s, he attempted a state-record vault of 15-10. He narrowly missed on three tries.

The Armwood boys won the most events, taking first in the shot put and discus, and tying Boca Ciega for first in the long jump. But the Hawks' runners couldn't catch up in the field events as they finished a distant sixth. The Riverview boys took third place.

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