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All-Sports Award: Plant’s athletic prowess unmatched

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Mon. June 17, 2013 | John C. Cotey | Email

All-Sports Award: Plant’s athletic prowess unmatched

TAMPA — If you’re looking for the secret to the athletic success of Tampa Bay’s winningest high school, Rob Nelson doesn’t really have anything earth shattering to reveal.

Just an extremely strong community, mixed in with a healthy dosage of school pride, a group of athletes — many of them third- and fourth-generation Panthers — and coaches who, well, expect to win.

“I don’t think there’s any special formula or special sauce,” said Nelson, Plant High’s principal. “It’s just kind of something you build over time.”

Over on South Himes, consider it built — and refortified. For the sixth consecutive year, Plant athletes have collectively earned the Tampa Bay Times’ All-Sports Award, given to Tampa Bay’s most successful school on the field, courts and pools.

Plant scored 705 points, edging Jesuit, which scored 670 without any girls programs, and East Lake, which was third with 582.5.

While Plant also won the award — which is determined by a formula that awards points to each school’s athletic teams based on district, region and state titles as well as postseason success — in 2002 and 1991, its recent run is unprecedented.

Only Jesuit (2005-07) and Bloomingdale (1993-95) have won the award three or more years in a row.

“There’s a standard that’s been set,” Nelson said, “and you don’t want to be the coach of the team or the student that didn’t get it done.”

The recent run of Panther success can be traced back to a revival in the football program, which won its first of four titles in 2006.

Nelson said he remembers growing up in Nebraska and how football success always seemed to dictate the mood around town.

“Football started the engine a little bit for us,” he said.

This year, Plant can thank its girls teams, which scored 405 of the team’s points because of high finishes at state in swimming, cross country and, of course, tennis. The girls tennis team was the school’s only state champion for 2012-13, scoring 110.

Nelson said the mix of great coaching and committed athletes — boys and girls — is clicking.

“Right now, it’s pretty close to being as complete a package as a principal could hope for.”

Tigers roar
Despite being a boys-only school, Jesuit moved up a spot to second after consecutive third-place finishes.

The Tigers were the only school to have three boys teams score 100 points or more: cross country, basketball and tennis.

Baseball was close, with 97.5, and wrestling scored 85.

Beast Lake
East Lake was the top Pinellas finisher, taking third.

The Eagles went into the spring only trailing Plant 505-500, but tennis, track and softball only combined for 30 points, dropping them.

Palm Harbor University was sixth.

Wolves appear, disappear
Newsome was a surprise in the fall thanks mostly to football, boys golf and girls swimming and cross country, scoring 432.5 points and tying Plant for first place.

But Newsome only managed 15 points each in the winter and spring to place seventh overall.

Winter is coming
The season of soccer, wrestling and basketball was kind to Tampa Prep, which was the top scorer in the cold months, picking up 250 points to edge Jesuit (247.5).

Wiregrass represents
The Bulls were the best North Suncoast performers on our chart, topping last year’s No. 1, Nature Coast, by five points to finish 12th overall.

Up or down?
Point totals were down this year, thanks to fewer state titles for the local teams.

Last year, 13 teams brought home gold medals. This year, only seven.

Our champions: Brandon and Springstead (wrestling), Plant (girls tennis), Tampa Prep (boys soccer), Canterbury (softball), Jesuit (boys basketball) and Lakewood (boys track).

Biggest surprises
It’s hard to fathom that with the success of the football and girls basketball teams in recent years, Jefferson would finish tied for last with only 5 points (boys track) after scoring 97.5 last year, or that Gaither would only score 10 points (football) a year after scoring 297.5.

All-sports rankings
Points are awarded based on a team’s finish in state competition in its classification. (Only sports sanctioned, not recognized, by the Florida High School Athletic Association receive points.) A state championship is worth 100 points, second place 95 and so forth through 16th place, which is worth 25. When exact positioning cannot be determined, such as with state semifinal losses, points are averaged. Also, 10 points are awarded for district championships and five for district runners-up.

Plant  705
Jesuit 670
East Lake 582.5
Berkeley Prep 567.5
Tampa Prep 540
Palm Harbor U. 492.5
Newsome 462.5
Clearwater CC 445
Steinbrenner 442.5
Robinson 425
Shorecrest 425
Wiregrass Ranch 395
Nature Coast 390
Mitchell 365
Tampa Catholic 352.5
Holy Names    342.5
Pasco    317.5
Osceola    295
Lakewood    292.5
Seffner Christian    285
St. Petersburg Catholic    282.5
Seminole    280
Springstead    272.5
Freedom    257.5
King    257.5
Sickles     252.5
Calvary Christian    247.5
St. Petersburg    217.5
Durant    215
Academy at the Lakes    207.5
Gulf     190
Fivay    187.5
Land O’Lakes    187.5
Countryside    185
Wharton    182.5
Hernando    180
Canterbury    177.5
Carrollwood Day    177.5
Largo    162.5
Plant City    150
Gibbs    147.5
Brandon    140
Hillsborough    132.5
River Ridge    132.5
Indian Rocks Christian    130
Strawberry Crest    125
Dunedin    120
Cambridge Christian    117.5
Northside Christian    115
Chamberlain    110
Armwood    102.5
Sunlake    102.5
Saddlebrook    85
Northeast    77.5
Admiral Farragut    70
East Bay    67.5
Ridgewood    67.5
Wesley Chapel    65
Bloomingdale    60
Boca Ciega    57.5
Clearwater    57.5
Tarpon Springs    57.5
Blake    52.5
Tampa Bay Christian    52.5
Lennard    30
Tampa Bay Tech    20
Dixie Hollins    15
Riverview    15
Alonso    10
Anclote    10
Bayshore Christian    10
Gaither    10
Pinellas Park    10
Spoto    10
Brooks-DeBartolo    5
Hudson    5
Jefferson    5
Leto    5

Past winners
2012: Plant; 2011: Plant; 2010: Plant; 2009: Plant; 2008: Plant; 2007: Jesuit; 2006: Jesuit; 2005: Jesuit; 2004: Seminole; 2003: Seminole; 2002: Plant; 2001: Seminole; 2000: Berkeley Prep; 1999: Jesuit; 1998: Jesuit; 1997: Clearwater Central Catholic; 1996: Lecanto; 1995: Bloomingdale; 1994: Bloomingdale; 1993: Bloomingdale; 1992: Ridgewood/Berkeley Prep; 1991: Plant; 1990: Brandon; 1989: Lakewood

Teams in post

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