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Thursday, Mar 26, 2015

Rugged region challenges county athletes


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Last year, Springstead girls coach Joel Myers talked about how tough a time his athletes would have surviving the loaded Class 3A, Region II Meet.

That makes his forecast for this season’s 3A-II Meet all the more daunting.

“I’m hoping to get kids out. Everybody I’m taking has a decent shot,” Myers said. “But it’s a brutal region.

“The 200 times, the 100 times, the 400 times are off the charts this year. It’s way tougher than last year.”

Chucked full of teams from Tampa and Orlando, the 3A-II Meet – as well as the 4A-II Meet – takes place today at Tampa-Leto.

Field events and the 4x800 get started at noon. Running prelims are at 3 p.m. and finals are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

The top four finishers in each event advance to the FHSAA Finals on May 3, at the University of North Florida’s Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville.

For the Lady Eagles, junior Wilena Little will be seeking her third straight trip to states, though it may not come in the 200 as it did her first two years.

She comes in seeded second in the long jump off her 18-4 leap at the 3A-District 7 Meet last Tuesday.

Conversely she ranks seventh in the 200 (25.60) and 13th in the 400 (1:02.95).

“Long jump is her best chance,” Myers said. “But she’ll probably have to go over 18 again in order to get out.

“The 400 is really good this year. The 200 she’s right there with everybody. It’s going to be extremely close.”

Myers also believes freshman Amber Philpott could advance in the 3,200. She finished fourth in districts (12:03.66), but is seeded fourth this time behind the same three girls that beat her in 3A-7: Wiregrass Ranch’s Nikita Shah, Belleview’s Catherine Blaney and Mitchell’s Claudia Cancello.

“She’s going to stay as close as she can to Cancello and Blaney,” Myers said. “If she does that and runs the same race as she did in districts, I think she’ll make it.”

Sophomore Erin Blackwell has a chance to repeat as a state qualifier in the 800. She’s seeded sixth with a time of 2:25.34.

Also for Springstead’s girls, the 4x400 of Ty’Rhonza Harris, Alexandra Ede, Blackwell and Little are seeded 10th (4:14.53).

“It’s a possibility all of them could get out,” Myers said. “Will that happen? Who knows? We’d have to have a heck of a day.”

Central’s girls will represented by sophomore Christina Lewis in the shot put (13th, 32-1 1/4) and discus (12th, 98-2), and junior Shanise Frazier in the 400 (16th, 1:03.75).

Springstead junior Bobby Harris is only tied for fourth in the high jump at 6-2. However, that’s based on his district height at Wiregrass Ranch last week.

The state runner-up in 2012 has gotten as high as 6-9, easily making him a state title contender. He was second in the region last year, also at 6-2.

“At districts, for someone reason Wiregrass was screwing with his mind. He can’t jump there, maybe it’s the concrete track,” Springstead boys coach Brandon Wright said. “Certainly he’s coming in underrated at 6-2. That was by far one of his worst days of the year.

“The thing about Bobby, he always thrives when he has competition to go against. If he’s got the right approach and the right frame of mind, I wouldn’t expect anything different.”

Another Eagle lying in the weeds is senior Ricky Toth in the 800. His district time (2:00.01) ranks third, yet his season best of 1:56.74 would make him the top seed.

“He’s coming in as a little bit of a lower seed, but he’s got the top time in the region this year,” Wright said. “He certainly has a great opportunity to do that.

“He’s in another situation where it’s going to be a dogfight. He very easily could finish as a district champ and we expect him to do that. What he has to do is deliver.”

The 4x800 of Zackary Romblad, Toth, James Amodie and Jai Jackson is seeded second with an 8:14.76. They have a season best (and school record) of 8:14.46, and would like to reclaim the county’s top spot after Nature Coast posted an 8:12.97 in its region.

“We want to see the 4x8 team go out there and make a statement,” Wright said. “Not only to the region and state, but also Nature Coast.”

Seniors Ethan Kemp in shot put (fifth, 47-4) and Abraham Paudling in the 200 (eighth, 22.40) have a chance to move on.

Paulding will additionally compete in the 100 (14th, 11.34) and triple jump (16th, 40-8). Bernard Ndedi will run the 400 (10th, 51.74) and Amodie the 1,600 (14th, 4:44.43).

In the 4x400, Amodie, Ndedi, Toth and Romblad are ranked seventh (3:31.05).

“Our region, no matter where you’re looking, is far and away the toughest,” Wright said. “You look at the times, they’re blazing times. We’ve worked hard all year. Here is the time to put your money where your mouth is.

“It’d be a successful day if they went out there and didn’t leave anything on the table.”

Central senior Quadavis Battle is seeded sixth in the 110 hurdles (15.54) and 10th in the 300 hurdles (41.68).

Also competing for the Bears, junior Walker Sheppard in the long jump (15th, 20-6), senior Andre Gallo-Crespo in the 400 (13th, 52.73), plus the 4x400 of Eric Enders, Gallo-Crespo, Battle and Sheppard (16th, 3:41.56).

At a Glance

What – Class 3A, Region II Meet

Who – Qualifiers from Central and Springstead

Where – Tampa-Leto High, 4409 W Sligh Ave., Tampa

When – Today; field events and the 4x800 get started at noon. Running prelims are at 3 p.m. and finals are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

At Stake – Regional team championship; top four in each event will advance to the 3A FHSAA Finals, May 3 at the University of North Florida’s Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville

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