Jesuit nearly takes meet title

Both the Tigers and Wharton's girls team take second place.

Published February 25, 2007

TAMPA - The Jesuit boys track team saw the Steak 'n Shake Invitational title within grasp Saturday. With just one event left, the Tigers had an 81/2-point lead over Evans Orlando, the defending Class 4A state champions.

"We didn't come here planning on winning the whole thing," Jesuit coach Ray Rodriguez said.

The Tigers picked up 11 points in the 3,200-meter run, but with the 4x400-meter relay as the day's finale, the Trojans had the edge with a seeded time of 3 minutes, 14 seconds.

Evans Orlando easily won the event - but if the Tigers had finished in sixth place, beating a time of 3:38, they would have won the invite of 37 teams and more than 800 athletes at Jefferson High.

But Jesuit fell nine seconds short. Evans Orlando won by 21/2 points, 64-62.5.

"To fall 21/2 points behind the state champions - that's fine with me," Rodriguez said. "That's fine. I'm very satisfied with today - totally satisfied."

Rodriguez added that his team relies heavily on the long-distance events, in which the Tigers earned 21 points.

Wharton's girls track team, while getting an exceptional day from senior sprinter Teona Rodgers, saw Oak Ridge Orlando take the title with 124 points. The Wildcats finished with 107, while Armwood came in third with 42.25.

Rodgers won both the 100- and 200-meter dashes by times of 11.64 and 24.47 seconds, respectively. She also placed second in the triple jump, 2.25 inches short of Hardee's Tina Louisjeune's 35 feet, 3.5 inches.

"Teona Rodgers is just a phenomenal athlete," Wharton coach Dan Mathis said. "She's always going to get points."

Added Rodgers, "I lost the triple jump by a hair. It's okay. I came in feeling pretty confident, and honestly, I thought the whole team did real good."