WINTER PARK — Plant City’s Javonte Sykes slashed down the runway and erupted into the air with breathtaking leaps in the triple jump.
Only problem was his toe crossed the scratch line on his first two attempts in the preliminaries. On his third attempt, he delivered.
Taking off with the shadow of his toe just at the scratch line, Sykes cleared 48 feet, 4 inches to win the Class 3A state title.
He was the only Hillsborough County athlete, boy or girl, to win an event.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Sykes said. “It might after I go home.”
Sykes entered the meet with the top seed (47-6). On Friday, he beat his closest competitor, Pensacola Pine Forest’s Loucheiz Purifoy, by 1.75 inches. Hillsborough’s Jeremiah Green was third (47-9).
“I had a couple of scratches,” Sykes said. “But I knew that last jump in the preliminaries was pretty good.”
Hillsborough’s Anthony Brown was third in the 100 (10.67 seconds) and 200 (21.60).
The Terriers had mixed results in the relays. The 4x800 team of Jake Gagne, Fabian Woodard, Carlos Flores and Robert Woodard was second in 7:56.18 and the 4x400 team of Flores, Wilson, Akeen Anthony and Evan Jennings was fifth in 3:18.78.
But the 4x100 team, which was seeded second, did not finish after dropping the baton in the preliminaries. That was costly as Hillsborough finished third with 32 points, one point behind Palm Beach Lakes for runnerup. Jefferson’s 4x100 relay, which had the top seed, was disqualified in the preliminaries for being out of the exchange zone.
Among the girls, Durant’s Grace VanDeGrift finished second in the 3,200 in 11:01.83 and sixth in the 1,600 in 5:03.69.
She dictated the pace at the start of the race, leading the pack with a commanding lead through the first seven laps. That was by design.
VanDeGrift surged to the front in hopes of creating enough of a cushion to compensate for the devastating kick of Tallahassee Chiles’ Lily Williams.
But Williams was able to catch her in the final 200 meters to win in 11:00.86.
“I knew that (Williams) had a kick,” VanDeGrift said. “She was going to sprint on me so I came out fast. I knew that was my job, to try and get far ahead of her, but she got me by one second.”
Times correspondent Kelly Price contributed to the report.