TITUSVILLE — Robinson’s Jack Rogers galloped his first lap in the 800, fell into place, waited for that moment then seized it.
“A perfect race,” said his coach Mark Altimari, who along with a throng of Knight runners hooted and hollered the sophomore across the finish line first Thursday at the Class 2A, Region 3 track championship in Titusville.
It was such a beautifully run race that it drew the kind of reaction typically reserved for the sprints and relays.
“I was in third place on the second lap, and just went to the outside and shortened by stride,” Rogers said.
Then he took off. With 300 meters left, “I started a new race,” he said and he sprinted home, finishing in 1:57.
It’s a simple strategy, the Knight said: run the 800 as a 500- and a 300-meter race, as opposed to a pair of 400-meter laps.
“It’s the best strategy,” he said, “but it’s not the easiest.”
Rogers also ran on the Knights winning 4x800 team, giving Robinson two of Hillsborough County’s three boys victories.
Jesuit’s Nick Catchur won the pole vault by going 15 feet, and he had some company at the top of the standings as teammate Jack Hughes finished second.
Jesuit made a splash in the field events, adding a second- (Jack Taylor) and fourth-place (Vincent Jackson) finish in the shot put.
And Spoto’s Eric Moate, who did not qualify in the 100 as expected, finished third in the 200 in his final race and chance to get to state.
Robinson’s Carlos Duclos finished third in the 100 in 10.82.
In the girls competition, Academy of Holy Names finished second to Rockledge in the team standings.
AHN got the kind of finishes out of Ryann McEnany (top-four finishes in both hurdles events and the 4x400) and Claire Snyder (second in the 1,600, 3,200) they’ve grown accustomed to, but it was “the little people” who surprised coach Kelly Griffin.
Jazymne McCloud (triple jump), Siobahn Lynch (long jump) and Melissa Mainzer (800) did not advance to state but all scored points in their events Griffin didn’t expect, and the 4x400 team advanced to state for the first time in her eight seasons as coach.
“We had 15 kids, and they all doubled or tripled up in events, so to finish second is pretty impressive,” she said.
Also impressive: Spoto freshman Janae Caldwell, who won the 400 in 57.18, and placed second in the 200.
Caldwell said she was hoping for more competition but expects to find it next week in Jacksonville.
“I know there will be a girl there that runs the 400 in 55 seconds, so I’m definitely looking forward to that,” she said.
Tampa Catholic’s Betia Washington was right behind Caldwell in the 400, taking second in 58.77.
Berkeley Prep’s Addi Harden qualified for state in the shot put (third, 36-11.75) and discus (fourth, 120-5), and will be joined by teammate Georgette Price, who was second in the 800 (2:20.03).
Pole vaulters Nicole Carroll of Tampa Catholic and Robinson’s Emily Vaughn advance with top-four finishes.