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Countryside’s boys 4x400 relay team is one of the best in the bay area. But the state? That’s another story.
The quartet of Jordan Rossi, Wylan Bernitt, Ricy Brown and Derek Messmore won a region title last week in three minutes, 20.32 seconds. Their time would have won last week’s Class A state meet and been third best in 2A.
Unfortunately, the Cougars are in 4A, the toughest classification in the state.
The relay team is seeded 10th heading into Saturday’s state meet and would have to shave nearly a full second off of its seed mark to make the finals.
“Class 4A is stacked,” Countryside coach Eileen Givens said. “There’s no doubt about it. It’s a double whammy having all those Miami schools and St. Thomas Aquinas in the same classification.”
Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas has won three straight team titles (two in 3A, one in 4A). Miami Northwestern won in 2003 and has been runnerup in 2002, ’04 and ’07. Miami Columbus finished second the past two seasons in 4A.
The there are the Cougars, who know their depth will be thinned out despite advancing another strong contingent after winning their second straight region title. Instead, Countryside will focus on individual medals.
Bernitt (300 hurdles) and Brown (800), both region champions, are seeded 10th and fifth, respectively, in their events. Messmore, the region runnerup in the 400, is seeded 10th and has the misfortune of being in the same event as Miami Northwestern’s Hugh Graham, who has the top seed after running a blistering 46.44 seconds at last week’s regionals.
“The boys follow the results from all the other meets,” Givens said. “They know it’s tough and things would be different if we were in 3A. But we’re still going to battle. The thing we’re hoping for is to get some personal records and come home with some medals.”
'The Cougars’ best shot at a medal will come from Parker Polgar, seeded third in the pole vault at 14 feet. His toughest competition could come from other county competitors. Pinellas Park’s Edward Galan has the top mark at 15 feet and Northeast’s William Burrows is seeded fourth at 14-0.
Seminole’s Chase Sutton, a distance specialist, is seeded eighth in both the 1,600 and 3,200 meters.
Class 4A state track
Where: Showalter Field, Winter Park
When: Saturday. Field events and 4x800 relay finals, 1 p.m.; running event preliminaries, 4 p.m.; running event finals, 6:30 p.m.
Admission: $8 Parking: $5