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Spartan leapt past county's best

Lakewood's Dermillo Wise - one of three Pinellas long jumpers to win state titles - earned four medals at the Class 3A meet.

By BOB PUTNAM

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 30, 2001


Lakewood's Dermillo Wise -- one of three Pinellas long jumpers to win state titles -- earned four medals at the Class 3A meet.

There was no doubt Pinellas County was dominant in the long jump this season.

The hardest thing might be determining who was the best in the county.

Consider the following:

Keswick Christian's Reed Rudge was the county's first state champion in the event, winning the Class A title with a personal-best 23 feet, 11/2 inches. But he had company the following day after the sublime performance of

St. Petersburg Catholic's Chris Davis, who won the 2A state title with a personal-best 23-11. So what must those two have thought when their marks were shattered the following week by ...

Lakewood's Dermillo Wise, who won the 3A state title with a personal-best 24-73/4.

Three classifications, three state titles. And this contingent doesn't even include Dixie Hollins' Kevin Marion, who at one point owned the nation's second-best leap at 24-1 but finished fifth at the 2A state meet.

The glut of talent in the county was evident. And no one displayed his talent more when it counted most than Wise.

Besides setting a personal best in the long jump, Wise's 24-73/4 was the best mark of all competitors at the state meet in any classification. He also was a quarter-inch away from tying the nation's best leap this season of 24-8 set by Joshua Jordan of Chandler, Ariz.

The long jump was not the only event Wise did well. At the state meet, he also finished second in the triple jump (47-9) -- three-quarters of an inch away from first -- and took third in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles.

"There were a few things I did at the state tournament that surprised me," Wise said.

"Overall, though, I think I did really well and accomplished all my goals."

Before this season, Wise was a bit of an unknown. He sat out his sophomore season after transferring from St. Petersburg because he said the school was not a good fit for him.

Wise made up for lost time, helping the Spartans win conference, district and regional titles before finishing fourth at state, the highest finish among county teams in any class.

Still, the spotlight did not find Wise in the long jump until the end.

"I thought I could win (the long jump)," Wise said. "It was one of my goals. I also wanted to break (Marion's) mark of 24-1. He put the mark out there for me. I just had to go out and get it."

So after medaling in four events, is there anything left for Wise to accomplish next season? "I want to win four state titles," he said. "That's a realistic goal for me."

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