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Those in need of a track and field fix can find it all day Saturday at USF. After debuting to raves in 2010, the second USF/George M. Steinbrenner Invitational is expected to attract roughly 80 prep teams and more than 1,500 runners. With virtually every bay area team — and a handful of prominent out-of-town programs — competing, this has rapidly evolved into Tampa’s premier regular-season meet. If you’re going, bring sunscreen, money for admission and drinks, and at least one extra pair of eyes. Otherwise, you’ll never be able to keep track of all the sprinters, hurdlers and heavers. To help make sense of it all, we’ve selected a few events definitely worth watching.
Boys shot put
The showdown between Jesuit’s Ike Edwards and Wesley Chapel’s Hunter Joyer could highlight the field-events phase. Joyer’s throw of 60 feet, 5 inches at a Tuesday meet was the state’s best of the season — he also held the previous mark — while Edwards threw 57 feet earlier this year.
Boys high jump
Perhaps no one is more stoked about shining Saturday than Alonso senior Giscard “Gigi” Petion. A week after coming tantalizingly close to jumping 6-8 at the Charles Johnson Invitational, Petion likely will get a crack at it again. Petion, who wants nothing more than a track scholarship to FSU, hopes he can attract the Seminoles’ attention at this meet. The presence of fellow 2010 state medalist Stephen Krupa of Englewood Lemon Bay also should provide motivation.
Girls 300 hurdles
Watch for a tight duel between Hillsborough senior Narricka Williams and Lakeland Jenkins junior Victoria Abnathy, both of whom medaled at last season’s Class 3A meet. Abnathy’s effort (43.58 seconds) at last weekend’s Kowboy Invitational in Kissimmee is the state’s best this year according to flrunners.com.
If Durant senior (and University of Florida signee) Grace VanDeGrift opts to run this race, it suddenly becomes very interesting. VanDeGrift, who is entered, finished fifth in the state in last year’s 3A meet. The sixth-place finisher, Kelli Williams, also will run Saturday, Mitchell coach Jeff Leavey said.
Boys 4x400 relay
We’re eager to see if Newsome’s astounding victory at last weekend’s Charles Johnson Invitational merits fluke or for-real status. In the final lap, Wolves senior A.J. Dowse scorched the inside lane to overtake runners from Hillsborough and Pompano Beach Ely and give Newsome the victory in a team-best time (3:24.68).
The most exciting 10 seconds of the day should arrive in this race, where Alonso’s Brandon Holloway and Hillsborough’s Anthony Brown should duel for the second time in as many Saturdays. Holloway ran a blistering time (10.66) in the prelims at the Charles Johnson Invitational, but fell to Brown when his block slipped in the final, where Brown ran the state’s fourth-fastest time of the year (10.61). Throw in Kissimmee Osceola’s Defario Phillips, also capable of running in the 10.6 range, and you won’t want to blink.
Parking: Free (but beware of reserved lots on the USF campus)
Schedule: Field events, 9 a.m.; running prelims, noon; running finals, 2 p.m.