JACKSONVILLE — Alfreda Steele wanted to run faster than she did last year, and midway through the Class 2A state meet Friday in Jacksonville, that’s just what she did.
But in her best event, the 100 meters, it wasn’t enough.
So the Pasco sophomore made sure in the 200 it was.
After coming up just short in her first three events of the day, Steele broke through in the 200, becoming the first Pasco girls track athlete to win a state track and field gold medal.
And she wasn’t alone in making history at Hodges Field on the campus of the University of North Florida.
While Pasco had to wait decades for its first title, Bishop McLaughlin didn’t even have to wait one, as Desiree’ Nathe high jumped 5 feet, 2 inches to win the first state championship of any sort for the Hurricanes.
“It’s a pretty big deal and my coaches told me I needed to get it because they told too many people that I was going to win,” Nathe said. “And I needed it for myself because it is my last year.”
Nathe jumped 5-2 on her first try; silver medalist Brooke Allen of Cedar Key also jumped 5-2, but after scratching.
Nathe, who will walk on at FAU next fall and compete in track, said originally she thought she had finished second. With the bar set at 5-4, the Hurricane senior clipped the bar with her left leg, and she fell into the mat disappointed. Then she learned Allen had more scratches, giving her gold.
Steele started her day by finishing second in the long jump (18-3.75) even though she was seeded seventh. Then in her marquee event she failed to run down defending champion Deanna Hill of Lake Highland Prep in the 100, despite a time of 11.99 seconds.
But in the 200, Steele finally caught her, building a lead and holding her off in a career-best 24.05 seconds; Hill ran a 24.13.
“I wanted to come in and run faster than I did last year, so I did that I would be happy,” Steele said. “But of course, I wanted to win a state championship, too.”
Steele also anchored the Pirates’ 4x100 team that finished seventh, and accounted for 28 of Pasco’s 30 points, good for a seventh-place finish.
Eunique Byrd scored the other two Pasco points with a seventh-place finish in the shot put (38-1).
The North Suncoast had a number of other strong performances:
• Nature Coast Tech’s Alicia Gentz ran in the slower heat of the 100, but that didn’t stop her from scoring points for the Class 2A Sharks. Gentz finished sixth in a time of 12.6 seconds, and added an eighth-place finish in the 200 (25.58).The 4x400 team was also
• Anclote’s Emily Gauvey, who was third at last year’s state meet in the high jump, was one spot better Friday after going 5-4 and grabbing silver. Gauvey, a sophomore, was also eighth in the 300 hurdles.
• Ridgewood’s Chris Branfield was eighth in the discus (145-11).
• Hernando’s Jasha Patrick was sixth in the 300 hurdles, running it in 46.52 seconds.
• Anclote’s Devonte Luis was seventh in the triple jump (44-1.5) and Jamaree Ried, was eighth in the 110 hurdles (15.26).