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Thursday, Mar 26, 2015

Springstead set to compete for district crown


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There stands a chance that on Tuesday, Springstead’s boys can accomplish something they haven’t done since 2001.

That was the last year the Eagles claimed a district championship in track and field, and ever since such a goal has generally felt unattainable.

But times have changed. In Brandon Wright’s third year as head coach, Springstead has steadily progressed to the point where district contention is no longer the stuff of fantasy.

The Eagles figure to battle host Wiregrass Ranch and Land O’ Lakes for the top spot in the Class 3A, District 6 Meet.

The meet starts with field events and the 4x800 at 11 a.m. Running prelims go off at 2 p.m. and finals are scheduled for 5 p.m.

Those who finish in the top four in each event will earn a spot in the 3A-Region II Meet, April 24 at Tampa-Leto.

But the Eagles could certainly tote home a team trophy, awarded to the district champion and runner-up.

“Everybody has got to perform,” Springstead coach Joel Myers said. “There’s not much room for error.”

Myers, in charge of the girls team, was speaking about the boys on behalf of Wright, who he said was on a cruise and unreachable by phone.

Springstead has a victory over Wiregrass Ranch, reigning district runner-up, in the Mitchell Invitational on March 2, 138-126.

Land O’ Lakes, the defending 3A-6 champ, finished third behind second-place Springstead at the Central Invitational on March 19.

On Tuesday, Land O’ Lakes, Springstead and Wiregrass Ranch finished 1-2-3 respectively at the Wiregrass Relays, though that was not under a traditional format.

Field events have carried the Eagles, led by state title contender Bobby Harris in the high jump, as well as fellow jumpers Bernard Ndedi, Abraham Paulding and Ricky Toth, plus Ethan Kemp (shot put) and Dylan Pendlebury (pole vault).

Ndedi is also a favorite in the 400, and Toth and Zackary Romblad head a distance crew that has grown by leaps and bounds.

Toth, Romblad, James Amodie and Jai Jackson are part of a 4x800 seeded first behind an 8:14.46. Amodie, Ndedi, Romblad and Toth combine for a strong 4x400 with a season-best time of 3:33.02.

Springstead’s girls could conceivably challenge for at least district runner-up honors, but that’s not Myers’ focus.

Case in point, he plans to hold his standout sprinter, junior Wilena Little, out of the 100 because he simply feels the region is too strong in that race.

Instead, she’ll compete in the 200 (she’s the defending champ), 400, long jump and 4x400.

“If it comes, it comes,” Myers said of any team awards. “If I was looking to score points, I’d put Wilena (Little) in three individuals events. But I’m looking to get kids to states. That’s our goal.”

Last year Little was a top seed in four events but was severely hampered by a hamstring injury. This season, she continues to battle leg ailments.

So far in her prep career, she has reached states twice, both times in the 200. She has yet to medal.

“She’s as healthy as she’s going to be,” Myers said. “She’s not 100 percent, but she’s pretty good. She’s better than she was last year.”

Sophomore Erin Blackwell, the reigning district champ in the 800, has battled her own leg injuries.

Still, Myers believes those two will get regional berths, and could be joined by others such as Ty’Rhonza Harris in the triple jump, Emmalee Harris in shot put and Amber Philpott in the 3,200.

Little, Blackwell, Ty’Rhonza Harris and Alexandra Ede form a 4x400 that should advance, along with the 4x800 of Philpott, Ty’Rhonza Harris, Kayla Brittain and Blackwell.

The Lady Eagles could still possibly tangle with Wiregrass Ranch and Belleview for the top two spots in the team standings, but Myers will let the chips fall on that front.

“A good day for us would be getting all the kids that have got a shot out to regions,” Myers said.

Central will be competing, as well, and senior Quadavis Battle, the county champion in both hurdle events, would be the most likely Bear to qualify for regionals.

If Battle does make it to the 3A-II Meet, it would mark his third straight season of advancing out of the district.

Junior Aysha McCants previously earned regional bids the past two years in the long jump, while at Nature Coast.

At a Glance

What – Class 3A, District 6 Track and Field Meet

Who – Belleview, Citrus, Central, Land O' Lakes, Lecanto, Mitchell, River Ridge, Springstead, Sunlake, Wiregrass Ranch and Zephyrhills

Where – Wiregrass Ranch, 2909 Mansfield Blvd., Wesley Chapel

When – Tuesday, starting with field events and the 4x800 at 11 a.m. Running prelims go off at 2 p.m. and finals are scheduled for 5 p.m.

At Stake – Team district championship; top four finishers in each event advance to 3A-Region II Meet, April 24 at Tampa-Leto.

(352) 544-5288

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