TAMPA - The Wharton girls could claim dominance at the district level with four straight championships. But regional team success had long eluded the Wildcats.
With talent spread throughout their lineup, the Wildcats dominated at USF, posting 85 points to outdistance second-place Charlotte by almost 30 points and claim their first region championship. Wharton next heads to the Class 3A state meet May 7 in Gainesville. Other qualifiers included third-place Tampa Bay Tech and fourth-place Blake.
Wharton made it a sweep with the boys outlasting Largo 84.20-51. Middleton (48) placed third while Boca Ciega qualified for the state meet by placing fourth with 45 points.
Wharton's Paul Pakidis won the mile and placed second in the 2-mile while teammate Kejuan Young won the triple jump and was third in the long jump. Middleton was paced by sprinter O.J. Murdock, who won the 100 and 200 meters.
The Wildcat girls received strong performances from Natalie Moser, Victoria Michelotti and Jessica Forrester, as well as the relay squads. Moser won the pole vault and was second in the 100 hurdles while Forrester was second in the 800. The Wildcats were fourth in the 4x100 and third in the 4x800.
But Michelotti was the key for Wharton. She won the 100 hurdles in 15.11 seconds, won the 300 hurdles in 47.05 and was second in the triple jump.
"We set a goal at the beginning of the year to win regionals," said Wharton girls coach Wesley Newton. "And all year long that's what we've been aiming for. Victoria was outstanding. She didn't qualify in any events last year and qualified in three this year."
King's Laura Bowerman won the 2-mile while Tampa Bay Tech's Racquel Parson won the 100 and 200. And Blake had state qualifiers in Shenequia Pressley (400) and Ebony Burch (800) and its 4x800 relay team.