© St. Petersburg Times, published March 2, 2003
TAMPA -- It was just the kind of finish the Wharton boys team needed.
During the final event of a 12-hour meet and with a point total just off the lead, the 4x400-meter relay team blew away its competition, winning in a time of 3 minutes 28.77 seconds. As it turned out though, the dominating victory was too little, too late. Wharton finished second with 66.5 points in the Steak n' Shake Track and Field Invitational at the University of South Florida to Vero Beach, which totalled 68.5.
Second, however, was more than respectable, as the meet featured 40 schools from around the state. Wharton was joined in the top 10 by five other Tampa Bay-area schools: Middleton, St. Petersburg Catholic, Jesuit, King and Wesley Chapel.
In addition to winning in the 4x400, Wharton got an event victory from triple jumper Kejuan Young, who jumped 43 feet, 10.5 inches.
The best individual performance of the day came from Middleton's O.J. Murdock, who was the boys MVP. Murdock won the 100-meters in a scorching time of 10.5 seconds and followed it up with a victory in the 200. Jesuit's Eric Ballotta won the 110-meter hurdles and King's Eric Speer won the 1600.
In the field, Charlotte's Wes Stockbarger was impressive, winning both the shot put and the discus.
In the girls' competition, Miami Southridge earned 124 points and won going away, beating its nearest opponent by 44 points. Team members won eight of the 19 events in the dominating performance, including all three relay races.
Southridge was led by girls MVP Sheena Johnson, who won the triple jump and the 100-meter hurdles. Finishing in the girls' top 10 were Lakewood, Plant and Tampa Bay Tech. East Bay's Paige Williams won the 1600, and St. Petersburg's Kerry Aleen won the 3200. Lakewood's Nadia Covington was victorious in the long jump.