TAMPA - While Gibbs is attempting to re-develop a foundation for its girls track program, veteran-filled Palm Harbor University proved to be a seasoned middle-distance performer in Saturday's Steak n Shake Invitational at the University of South Florida.
Palm Harbor seniors Kerrie Savery and Lauren McNary had a big hand in the Hurricanes' fifth-place finish in the meet, which featured athletes from 133 schools.
McNary finished second in the 400 run in 57.24 seconds as she was edged by Miami Northwestern's Sade Nero (56.56) in her best individual event. McNary also helped with fourth-place finishes in the 800 and 400 relays.
Northwestern won the meet with 120 points, outdistancing runnerup Orlando Oak Ridge (66) and third-place Tampa Bay Tech (23).
Gainesville Buchholz won the boys with 97 points, with Northwestern finishing second (85). Lakewood Ranch was third with 43 points.
"I'm just getting out of basketball and getting into track shape," said McNary, who was seventh in state last year in the 400. "So I'm pretty happy with the way the meet went. It feels good to know I could still improve."
Her teammate, Kerrie Savery, overcame strep throat to give the Lady Hurricanes a lift with a fourth-place finish in the 800 run. She also ran in the relays with McNary.
Gibbs, which finished 20th, had encouraging performances from juniors Natalie Allen, Eboni Reed, Shaneka Jackson and senior Lucy Hicks to finish third in the 100 relay, which was won by Northwestern. Gibbs also earned points in placing seventh in the 400 relay, which included freshman Ivori Reed.
"Our strength is in the relays," said second-year coach Lavonda Rivers, a former prep track standout who graduated from Gibbs in 1999. "Our program has been down the last couple of years at Gibbs, but a meet like this is good for our younger athletes."