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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
CLEARWATER - Neidra Covington had big plans next week.
The Boca Ciega senior wanted to not only win state titles in the long and triple jump, but also break state records.
That will not happen.
At the Class 3A, Region 3 meet, Covington pulled a hamstring on her first attempt in the long jump. She couldn't compete after that and will miss the state meet in Winter Park.
"I really didn't get to see it," Pirates coach John Ingram said. "All I know is she got injured and her mom took her home."
It was a tough blow for Covington, who has won national titles in the long and triple jump and was a prohibitive favorite in both events.
"We'll just have to move on," Ingram said.
With Covington gone, the spotlight was on Lakewood's Jazmyn Shorter, who won the 400 and 200.
In the 400, Shorter dominated with a time of 55.96 seconds, nearly two seconds faster than her closest competitor.
"I kind of looked back to see where everyone was," said Shorter, who was 0.11 seconds off her personal best in the 400. "I was surprised because I didn't have anyone behind me. That's when I knew I had a pretty good time."
It was a bit closer in the 200. Shorter lunged across the finish to win in 24.67, 0.01 seconds ahead of Teona Rodgers of Wharton.
"I really didn't think I won (the 200)," Shorter said. "But I'll take it."
Shorter also was impressive in the 4x400 relay.
Using its superior depth, Wharton overwhelmed the competition, winning its third straight region title with 119 points, 51 more than Punta Gorda Charlotte. Seminole was the top Pinellas finisher with 54 points.
"I thought it might be a little closer," Wildcats coach Wes Newton said. "We got some points in the distance events and some of the field events that I didn't think we'd get."
Teona Rodgers (100 hurdles), Jessica Forrester (1,600) and Tiffanie Saxton (800) won titles for Wharton. The Wildcats also won the 4x100 and 4x800 relays.
Freedom's boys title was closer than Wharton's. The Patriots beat Sarasota Booker 74-61. Boca Ciega led Pinellas with 401/2 points.
Calvin Smith and Mikese Morse were the big scorers for Freedom.
Smith won the 400 in 47.52 seconds and the 200 in 21.43. Both are among the top times in the state. Morse had a field day in the field events, winning the long jump (23 feet, 91/2 inches), high jump (6-6) and placing second in the triple jump (46-41/2).
4A-2: Cougars fall
TAMPA - The unbeaten Countryside boys met their match as host Gaither put an emphatic ending to the regional meet with a victory in the 4x400 as Torrey Esalomi anchored the winning leg. That helped the Cowboys get past the Cougars 71-66 in the team standings.
Esalomi also won the 400 in 49.21.
On the girls side, Kerry Allen provided the Pinellas highlight by winning the 1,600 and 3,200. Her time of 5:10 in the 1,600 was her best of the season. The Green Devils were the top Pinellas team with 30 points, behind winner Vero Beach with 69.5. Sarasota Riverview took second with 45 points.
The Countryside boys shaved eight seconds off their 4x800 time in districts to take first in 8:17.90, but that wasn't enough to hold off Gaither.
Filling in for injured teammate TJ Allen, Gaither's Brian Tabor helped the team to wins in the 4x400 and 4x100. Philip Boles ran anchor on the 4x100.
"I was thinking of TJ Allen, and was running for him," Bolles said. "At the end, I kept telling myself to push more. We're going to get first."
Sickles freshman Derek Wehunt won the 1,600 and 3,200. Chamberlain's Mike White cleared 14 feet in the pole vault. Bloomingdale's Cameron Gallman topped 6-4 in the high jump.