TAMPA - Wharton achieved its goal of a title Thursday in the Class 4A, District 5 meet, running away on its own turf.
"I think our whole team performed over their heads," Wharton coach Wes Newton said. "Well, not over their heads, but up at least up to their potential. From Day 1 of practice, this was our goal, and we wouldn't have accepted anything less."
"If we'd won the second place trophy, I would have taken it over and thrown it in the lake."
Wharton's Natalie Moser led the way with a win in the pole vault at 11 feet, 6 inches. She has cleared a state-best 12-0 this season. Moser also won the 300-meter hurdles in 48.59 seconds, edging Palm Harbor University's Latecia Hardy (49.65).
Newton said he didn't know what to expect from Pinellas teams since, because of scheduling conflicts, Wharton had not faced any this season.
St. Petersburg freshman Kerry Allen, unbeaten this season, dominated the distance races, winning the 1,600 (5:13) and 3,200 (11:11).
Allen said she could break 11 minutes in the 3,200 by the state finals. She ran a 5:30 split in the first half Thursday.
"I think my first mile was pretty fast, but then I slowed down in the second. I want to run a more even race," she said.
In the 800, Gaither's Katelyn Truesdale passed PHU's Kerrie Savery on the last 200 meters and didn't look back, winning in 2:23.
Gibbs coach Lavonda Rivers and some other Pinellas coaches filed a protest because they said their runners didn't know where the finish line was, since it changed each race.
The appeal was denied, however, because race officials said they warned about the changes during the coaches' meeting before the event.Sharks show teeth
SARASOTA - Riverview won a few events but placed in many as it ran away with the Class 4A, District 6 meet.
The Sharks finished with 107 points, 12 ahead of second-place Sarasota Riverview. Bloomingdale and Plant City finished tied for third with 76, and Durant was fifth with 64.
The Cougars' Dee Jackson was one of the top local competitors winning the triple jump and 400 while helping the 4x400 relay team place second.
- SCOTT PURKSJaguars capture relay title
WESLEY CHAPEL - Sarta Petrick knew she would return to state in the 1,600 meters. She knew she'd be back in the 3,200.
But it was the 4x800 relay the Academy of the Holy Names star coveted. She wasn't sure if they could do it at Thursday's Class 2A, Region 3 track meet at Wildcat Stadium, but coach Pamela Legg made them believe.
"I didn't think we could make it," Petrick said. "But our coach knew we could. It was because of her that we did it."
The 4x800 squad of Kelly Kazbour, Rachel Gilman, eighth-grader Kendall Wilson and Petrick ran 10 minutes, 10.51 seconds, eclipsing the school record by five seconds to win the region title and qualify for next week's Class 2A state meet at Percy Beard Stadium in Gainesville.
Petrick also broke her own 1,600 record with a time of 5:21:43 and won the 3,200 (11:48:90) to win three region titles. Three Jaguars took the top 3,200 spots: Petrick, Kazbour (12:14:88) and Aileen Fletcher (12:22:63), cutting 30 seconds off her previous best.
Teammate Mallory Davis was second in the 100 high hurdles (15.69). AHN's Joanne McCullum took fourth in the triple jump (33-71/2) and Gilman was fourth in the 800 (2:28.02).
Freedom's Danielle Brown was second in the 200 (26.04), fourth in the 100 (12.5) and helped the school's 4x100 squad to second (50.75). Tampa Catholic's Jamie Clasen was second in the 800 (2:27.38).
- JAMAL THALJI