Two Barons finish near top

Jaggar MacDonald and Kevin Harley take second place in their respective events.

Published April 29, 2007

WINTER PARK - Jaggar MacDonald stood on the runway, blew air from his cheeks and shook his arms as if he were shivering on a calm, overcast day at the Class 2A state meet.

This was the St. Petersburg Catholic senior's final attempt at 6 feet, 10 inches in the high jump. He leaned back and began his final urgent sprint toward a state title.

MacDonald hoped for one big jump. This was not it.

His calf knocked the bar off, and he saw an official wave a yellow flag to signal a foul. MacDonald then sprawled on the mat. Gone was any chance of winning his first state title.

MacDonald was runnerup with a leap of 6-8, tying his personal best.

"I ready today, " MacDonald said. "I wasn't nervous at all, even when the bar was raised to 6-10."

Crystal River's Ronnie Baldner cleared 6-10 to win the high jump. Throughout the event, Baldner and MacDonald squared off. When Baldner cleared a new height, MacDonald would match him before bounding from the mat with upraised fists and then applauding himself.

"I was undefeated, and it's a tough way to lose, " MacDonald said. "But at least I made it close."

Another Baron, Kevin Harley, took second in the 800 meters. Harley was racing against one of the nation's best middle-distance runners in Tallahassee Godby's Joseph Franklin, who won the 1, 600-meter run in a state record 4 minutes, 08.84 seconds.

Franklin also had the fastest seed time in the 800 and was among the front-runners in the event. Harley stayed in the back of the pack, lurking in sixth place before unleashing his kick in the final 300 meters to finish as the runnerup with a personal-best and national-elite time of 1:55.50, just more than a second behind Franklin.

"I knew it was going to be difficult considering who I was going up against, " Harley said. "Franklin is one of the best. I waited to make my move. I just ran out of room.

"It's bittersweet because I ran the fastest race of my life, but I was not able to win."

On the girls side, Clearwater Central Catholic's Kathleen Hunter was the county's only place-winner. The senior took eighth in the 800 in a personal-best 2:19.56.

"I was in the slow heat, but it was a real competitive field, " Hunter said. "I had my work cut out, but I was able to kick into high gear at the end. That's usually my specialty."

Bob Putnam can be reached at Putnam@sptimes.com or at (727) 445-4169.