In four short springs, the USF/George M. Steinbrenner Invitational has evolved into a bloated replicate of the state meet, albeit with more heats and less humidity. Roughly 80 schools representing 15 counties shoehorned their tents and coolers into the USF Track & Field Stadium on Saturday for the latest staging of the event. By day’s end, a series of meet records — and at least one national mark — fell. For those trying to acclimate their kids to a postseason atmosphere, it was time (11 hours, to be exact) well spent. Here are some random observations from the day:
Leaps and boundless
If the past two weekends are any sign, Hillsborough senior Jeremiah Green could leap into a hallowed stratosphere by season’s end.
Six days after winning a national indoor triple jump title (51 feet, 6.5 inches) in New York City, Green needed only one attempt at USF to record the nation’s best prep outdoor mark (52-1) this season.
His next goal: the state record (53-4) set 20 years ago by Sanford Seminole’s Andre Scott. Terriers coach Joe Sipp says it’s certainly conceivable.
“I can go farther,” said Green, who insists he jumps 52 feet regularly in practice. “So whatever it takes, that’s where I’m going to go.”
Now that’s a sacrifice play
We’re calling it right now: After a full season away from the event, Gaither’s Samson Moore will win a state 110-meter hurdles title in 2014.
Moore, the Class 3A runnerup in the event as a freshman last year, is bypassing his specialty race this spring to focus exclusively on speed work. Though he probably won’t make a medal stand in the 100 or 200 (he failed to make the finals in either event at USF), we see this short-term gamble paying off. Moore’s hurdles form is there. Toss in fleetness, and the results could be staggering.
Speaking of sacrifice …
Chamberlain senior Andrea Aaron, who somehow juggled flag football, softball and track for the Chiefs last year, is focusing exclusively on the discus and shot this spring.
Now, she shapes up as a bona fide 3A state title contender in the shot. Her winning throw at USF (a meet-record 43 feet, 0.5 inches) would have won the state crown in 2012, when she placed sixth.
“(The state title) is a very realistic goal in the shot,” said Chiefs throws coach Alex Collazo, who also watched Aaron set a meet record in the discus (124-5). “Her goal even before going into districts is to hit 45 (feet). She doesn’t want to linger.”
Ordway on pace
Hillsborough senior 400-meter extraordinaire Jorian Ordway won her specialty race going away (55.64 seconds) Saturday, and appears poised to improve on her third-place state finish last season. Ordway already has clocked the nation’s seventh-fastest 400 time (55.43) this year; if she can dip into the 54s she’ll likely grab a gold in May.
The heats keep on coming
For such a sprawling meet, the USF/Steinbrenner is managed with striking efficiency. Fact is, we’re astounded that meet organizer (and Steinbrenner girls coach) Ladd Baldwin remains so unflappable amid the endless bustle.
That said, it’s too darn long. Some running preliminaries Saturday featured more than a dozen heats. The 4x400 relay alone took roughly an hour to complete. Not sure how practical this is, but we suggest a two-day event, staging the running prelims on a Friday evening, followed by the field events and running finals on Saturday.
Home Team Heat Sheet
The Heat Sheet is a fancy name for the Tampa Bay Times’ weekly county track and field honor roll. Bear in mind, this is a continual work in progress. To add performances (or argue others), contact Joey Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org or Hilia Twitter @JoeyHomeTeam.
High jump: F. Woodard, Fre (5-8); S. Akachukwu, Fre (5-6)
Long jump: S. Akachukwu, Fre (19-8); C. Reiner, TP (17-3)
Triple jump: C. Reiner, TP (37-3); Q. Fantroy, Alo (36-6)
Shot put: A. Aaron, Cha (43-0.5); A. Harden, BP (36-4.5)
Discus: A. Aaron, Cha (124-5); A. Harden, BP (118-11)
Pole vault: B. Smith, Wha (11-0); M. Arsenault/R. Goding, Pla (10-6)
4x800 relay: Pla (9:59.56); Wha (10:06.25)
100 hurdles: R. McEnany, AHN (15.12); T. Watson, Wha (15.28)
100: C. Hardy, King (11.86); S. Akachukwu, Fre (12.17)
1,600: C. Snyder, AHN (5:11.95); M. Henderson, Wha (5:18.00)
4x100 relay: King (48.47); SC (49.09)
400: J. Ordway, Hil (55.43); J. Caldwell, Spo (56.41)
300 hurdles: M. Barber, Wha (44.55); T. Watson, Wha (45.51)
800: R. Cazares, Gai (2:18.42); R. FaHilors, King (2:21.44)
200: C. Hardy, King (24.59); J. Ordway, Hil (24.67)
3,200: C. Snyder, AHN (11:50.81); M. Hull, Rob (12:02.14)
4x400 relay: Hil (4:00.37); Alo 4:03.55
High jump: D. Lawson, Hil (6-4); A. Gallon, Arm (6-2); R. Scott, Cha (6-2)
Long jump: J. Green, Hil (23-6); D. Porter, Jef (22-3.5)
Triple jump: J. Green, Hil (52-1); C. Thomas, SC (45-8)
Shot put: Hil. Jackson, Jes (48-5); J. Taylor, Jes (47-8)
Discus: T. Webb, Pla (144-2.5); J. Johnson, TBC (141-6)
Pole vault: N. Catchur, Jes (14-3); S. Dobbins, Brandon (13-6); D. Kornitzer, SC (13-6)
4x800 relay: Ste (8:12.50); Rob (8:15.70)
110 hurdles: W. Taylor-Haynes, Alo (14.12); C. Chambliss, TBT (14.94)
100: D. Williams, TBT (10.74); R. DaHilis, CDS (10.75)
1,600: A. LeBlanc, Blo (4:25.45); M. Magee, Ste (4:26.55)
4x100 relay: Arm (42.47); Jef (42.55)
400: T. Jackson, New (48.72); R. Wilson, Hil (48.75)
300 hurdles: M. Williams, Gai (40.40); C. Chambliss, TBT (40.99)
800: J. Moore, Jef (1:57.26); J. Martinez, New (1:59.24)
200: R. DaHilis, CDS (21.74); J. Green, Hil (21.79)
3,200: L. Benner, New (9:40.20); M. Borland, BP (9:42.78)
4x400 relay: Jef (3:25.33); Mid (3:26.82)
Note: Hand-held times for races of 400 meters or less are not eligible for the Heat Sheet