PALM HARBOR — In 18 seasons coaching track, Eileen Givens has been involved in district meets that include routs and down-to-the-wire dramatics.
And she has prevailed in every one.
Givens has an impressive streak, winning 17 straight district titles (12 consecutive as Lakewood’s girls coach from 1994-2005 and five straight with the Cougar boys). Her 18th might have been her toughest yet.
Countryside had to rally and used its depth in the sprints to win the Class 4A, District 5 title, outscoring St. Petersburg 180-143.
“We really had to work for this one,” Givens said.
The Cougars’ got wins in the field events from Ricy Brown in the long jump (21 feet, 4 inches), Denzel Thompson in the triple jump (44-10) and Parker Polgar in the pole vault (14-6). But that wasn’t enough to hold off the Green Devils early on.
St. Petersburg gobbled up points in throwing events with Emmanuel Watkins winning the shot put (48-6) and teammate Grant Barker taking first in the discus (150-1). The Green Devils scored 42 of their 71 points in the field events off those two events.
To win, Countryside had to get as many sprinters into the finals and the top eight as possible. The Cougars had multiple place winners in the 200, 400 and 800.
Brown won the 800 (2:01.01) and Wylan Bernitt won the 300 hurdles (40.18). The Cougars also won the 4x400 (3:27.25) and 4x800 relays (8:37.43).
The Green Devils’ champions in the running finals were Cody Pogorelc in the 110 hurdles (15.29), David Jones in the 200 (22.04) and the 4x100 relay (42.77).
Seminole’s Chase Sutton and Northeast’s Jalin Hubbard each won multiple events. Sutton took first in the 1,600 (4:26.61) and 3,200 (9:53.38). Hubbard was the champion in the 100 (10.84) and 400 (49.74).
On the girls side, Pinellas Park won its first district title in nearly a decade, beating the host Hurricanes 122-108.
The Patriots got off to fast start in the field events with Jenna Sperna winning the shot put (37-6) and discus (105-10). Sperna also ran anchor leg on the 4x100 relay team that took first in 51.03.
St. Petersburg’s Alex Eaton also was a champion in multiple events, winning the 1,600 (5:30.24) and 3,200 (12:10.61).