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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.
Wharton senior Teona Rodgers, who is headed to Florida State, won the 100- and 200-meter hurdles at the Class 3A meet. She also placed fifth in the triple jump.
Why we picked her: Do you really have to ask? Rodgers, who evolved from gawky freshman to potential Olympian during her prep career, went out in a burst of glory. She won the 100-meter hurdles at the Class 3A meet, setting an event record (13.33 seconds) in the preliminaries before upsetting Stanford-bound senior Shataya Hendricks to win the 200. Her state medal triumvirate was completed with a fifth-place finish in the triple jump.
Most impressive accomplishment: Since many expected her to set a meet record in the 100 hurdles, we'll go with her 200 performance. The way Rodgers and veteran Wharton coach Wes Newton recall it, Hendricks broke out first before Rodgers closed the gap and pulled ahead. At about the 120-meter mark, Hendricks pulled up alongside her again. "Teona looked over at her and was like, 'That's not happening, ' and put about 10 meters on her right away, " Newton said.
Future plans: Rodgers has signed with Florida State, where she's expected to focus exclusively on hurdles. Before enrolling at FSU in mid-June, she'll compete at the prestigious Golden South Classic in Orlando, the Nike Outdoor Nationals in Cary, N.C., and the Adidas Golden West Invitational in California. At one of those meets, she's expected to face Jackie Coward of Knoxville, Tenn., the only prep runner in the country who has run the 100 hurdles faster (13.27).
Did you know: As a junior, Rodgers failed to eclipse 14 seconds in the 100 hurdles but ran a 13.4 in the first meet of her senior season. ... According to Newton, Rodgers was hand-timed at 12.92 seconds in the 100 hurdles at a regular-season meet at King.
Quote: "She probably would've won the 300-meter hurdles at state also, but we had to choose (between the 300 hurdles and 200). I think she enjoyed being a pure sprinter for a whole season, probably knowing she's not going to be able to do much of that in college. Her speed over the last three years has just increased logarithmically." - Newton
High jump: Julianne Morgan, Jr., Plant : 3A region champion (5-2)
Long jump: Amani Bryant, So., Wharton: Third at Class 3A meet (17-6.75)
Triple jump: Marissa McEleveen, Jr., Blake: 3A runnerup eclipsed 38 feet at state
Pole vault: Morgan Scherschel, So., Gaither: Fifth at Class 4A meet (9-6)
4x800 relay: Kathia Skinner, Erin Bailey, Brittany Hilliker, Katrina Skinner, Wharton: No seniors on this 3A region championship team
4x400 relay: Teona Rodgers, Kathia Skinner, Amani Bryant, Katrina Skinner, Wharton : Eclipsed four minutes to win 3A, Region 3 title
4x100 relay: Joi Nichols, Tanesha Maxwell, Shana Johnson, LaShae White, Tampa Bay Tech: Foursome of underclassmen won 3A, Region 3 meet in 48.62
Coaches of the Year
Dan Mathis and Wes Newton, Wharton: Tired of the administrative demands of a head coach, Newton passed the title to Mathis after the 2006 season to focus exclusively on coaching. With Mathis focusing on speed and Newton on hurdlers, the pair led the Wildcats to a third-place finish at the Class 3A meet.
Armwood - Asia Goodman, Cheryle McBride, Sarita McBride, Shambrey Oliver, Kristi Skelton Berkeley Prep - Audrey Blake, Oliva D'angelo, Allison Higbe, Katie Massengill, Gigi Price, Page Price, Sarah Rechtoris Blake - Leria Jenerette, Megan Thies Brandon - Megan Fenzau Cambridge - Caitlin Deboer Chamberlain - Ashley Archer, Arteria Brinson, Dana Cannon, Natalie Lee Durant - Kate Williamson East Bay - Lacy West Freedom - Alyssa Franks Gaither - Shannon Fisher, Rikka Lovely, Ashley Nieuwendam, Yesenia Perez, Emily Seymore, Sarah Wood Hillsborough - Maleka Adebayo, Phebe Albert, Vivian Albert, Ashley Brown, Antoinie Eugene, Kindall Johnson, Shanice Lewis, Jalonda Spencer Holy Names - Stephanie Socias Jefferson - Jasmine Earls, Paige Jones, LaShawn Meredith, Kyra Montaque King - Myesha Williams Newsome - Ilana Aramati, Janey Martin Plant - Jennifer Chamblee, Kaitlyn Ostroski Riverview - Marissa Manning Sickles - Angela Hegge, Bianca Morrison, Nicole Richardson Tampa Catholic - Jacqueline Friscia, Lily McCormick, Abbi Singletary, Marly Upcavage, Tampa Prep - Tawsha Asher Wharton - Stephanie Lettiero, Shantrell Pierre, Danielle Sermons