Lakewood sweeps Early Bird Invitational
Lakewood sent a message in the first big track meet of the season by sweeping both boys and girls team titles at the East Lake Early Bird Invitational. The event was held at Clearwater due to the new, rubber track being installed at East Lake. The Spartans are finishing work on a rubber track at Lakewood High as well.
The Spartan sprinters led the way with Jamesha Moorer sweeping the 100 meters (12.53), the 200 (25.27) and helping the 4x100 relay take first place in 49.20. The 100 and the 4x1 marks were both meet records, and the time was a personal best for Moorer, who even kicked in a leg on the fifth-place 4x400 relay.
"I run with my brothers," Moorer said. "I like to imagine they are on the line with me when I start every race."
Moorer refers to non-biological brothers Terence Ware and Jordan Williams, two of Lakewood's finest male sprinters. That same sprinter tandem dominated every boys running event under 400. Ware won the 100 in 11.09, led the winning 4x100 (42.83) relay and took second to Williams in the 200. Williams won both hurdle events, the 110 hurdles in 14.88, the 300 hurdles in 40.82 and the 200 in 22.17.
"For the first meet, this is wonderful," Williams said. "We have been having to practice on the football practice field (with the new track being installed)."
The Lakewood boys tallied 126 points to comfortably out-distance runnerup East Lake with 84. Nature Coast Tech was third with 62 and Ridgewood took fourth with 56.
The 200 really punctuated the meet for the Lakewood boys as both Williams and Ware came scorching down the straightaway only to blow tires in the last 20 meters. Williams tweaked a hamstring and Ware re-aggravated a calf injury and they both came grunting and groaning across the tape, almost together as Ware finished in 22.52 to Williams' 22.17.
"I thought we would sweep (the sprints) but you know anything can happen," Ware said. "I was just glad to finish the race (200)."
On the girls side, the team race was a near photo finish as Land O'Lakes led much of the meet. The Gators have a more balanced team and they piled on the points and led 86.5 to 84 heading into the 3,200 and second-to-last event. With all the skill in the sprinting department the Spartans have, it was a distance runner that clinched the team title for them.
Sophomore Hannah McAuliffe, in her first ever track meet, won the 3,200, surging past Osceola's Fatima Abu-Rumman and Sunlake's Jamila Cardwell on the seventh lap, putting nine seconds between them and finishing in 12:25.44. Naturally, that's a PR for McAuliffe, who also took third in the 1,600 (5:37.63).
"There was a guy from Lakewood that ran a faster 1,600 than me and I had to beat him (in the 3,200)," McAuliffe said. "I'm usually faster than him and I was not going to have that."
McAuliffe competes rigorously with the boys distance runners at Lakewood as there is only one other female distance runner in the Spartan lineup.
"(McAuliffe) has a fierce will to win, she refuses to lose," Lakewood distance coach Mitch Walker said. "She's as hard a worker as anyone in practice and she gets frustrated when she loses to the boys."
The Land O'Lakes girls can rest easy as they are not up to full strength. SAC cross country champion Natalie Abernathy left the meet sick after putting in a leg on the 4x800 relay. Coach Rock Ridgeway's soccer girls are not up to full speed yet, even if they still scored some big points. Lacy Nasello took third in the long jump (15-10). Tori Cannata won the triple jump (35-6) and took third in the high jump (5-2). Non-soccer athlete Antonia Beason took second in the high jump, ceding first to Mitchell's Emily Gauvey at 5-4 based on number of tries to make 5-4. Amelia Cary won the shot (33-11.5) for the Gators.
"I have no complaints," Ridgeway said. "I'm happy with what we did, we've got some young kids and we need to get healthy."
Dunedin's Olivia Welsh only took on a couple of events on Wednesday but she rocked both of them, clearing 10-6 to win the pole vault and setting down her old meet record in the 100 hurdles with a 15.46.
In what was a theme of first-time events on Wednesday, Osceola's Emma Grantges won the girls 1600 (5:36.46) in her first time running that particular race. Cardwell was right behind her at 5:36.95. Grantges also anchored the Osceola 4x800 relay that won in 10:21.37. Palm Harbor University made it a close second at 10:21.70.
In boys high jump, Matthew Johns of Mitchell and Romain Minoff-Neufville both cleared 6 feet but Neufville did it in two tries and Johns in three so Neufville took the title. It set a new personal mark for Johns.
All-around athlete Ashley Gentz of Nature Coast is fresh off a girls weightlifting state title and won the long jump in her first competition in the event at 16-10. She also won the 400 in 1:00.48, just breaking the tape in front of East Lake's Cienna Nichols at 1:00.50.
Gentz even ran on the second-place 4x100 (49.90) and the first-place 4x400 (4:14.24).
East Lake's Jennifer Lima, who broke her ankle on Nov. 2, won the 800 in 2:29.37 fighting off Clearwater's Jordyn Avers on the last turn to finish with an encouraging win.
"It feels so good; I wasn't sure how it would go (with the ankle)," Lima said. "Jordyn ran a good race, I almost couldn't stay with her at one point."
Land O'Lakes' Josue Arandia won the boys 800 in 2:01.98 with a big move on the back stretch to seal the win. Mason Young of PHU was second in 2:03.04.
SAC cross country champ, Dominic Moreno of Wesley Chapel set down his personal best in the 1600, going 4:36.76. Young of PHU also set down his PR with a second-place 4:37.62.
Moreno wears a rubber bracelet commemorating friend Jaret Harshman who passed away in December.
In the boys pole vault, River Ridge took the top two spots as Stone Baker and Garrett Jerothe both cleared 13 feet. Jerothe set down his personal mark, clearing 13-6 to win it.
"This was a good day for me," Jerothe said. "I know I have a good jump where my swing leg ends up; that'e when I know I'm going to clear the height and I felt that today."
Jacob Taylor of Clearwater and Tucker Brace of Land O'Lakes both cleared 12 feet, Taylor breaking his PR.