MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
I didn't get to every good thing about last night's West Coast Invitational, or should we call it the West Cold Invitational, so here's a few performances that merit additional mentions:
1. One last shoutout for the Gibbs 4x100 team, because that's always a big event, especially between the Gladiators and Spartans. Lakewood has owned the event in recent years, so Gibbs coach Anthony Givins is hoping Wednesday's win (in a solid 42.45 seconds) was a precursor of better things to come for his track team.
"It's a spirit lift and a momentum lift for our kids,'' he said. "But I think we can run faster."
Emmanuel Stewart ran the first leg, handed off to Jaquez President (who also won the 400), who turned it over to Damien Daniels and then Trayvon Bromell. The Gladiators never led the race, until Bromell made his final charge, and had to survive two terrific second and third legs by Shaquill and Shaquem Griffin.
2. Daniels' handoff to Bromell on the last leg was a thing of beauty, and much better than the Spartan exchange. In a closer race, it would have made all the difference. Daniels also finished third in the 100.
3. T.J. Holmes is so good. He looks effortless in clearing the hurdles, and also ran the final leg of Lakewood's 4x400 winners. He's pretty to watch, and for coaches to vote him co-MVP with Countryside's Paul McKenna (over Bromell) says alot.
4. If Holmes wasn't around, Dunedin's Ahmad Middleton would have won the 110 and 300 hurdles easily. He was second in both, but finished safely ahead of the third-place finishers in each race. Middleton also finished third in the long jump behind the Griffin twins, so essentially he was denied gold medals by three of the very best track performers in Tampa Bay.
10. Lakewood's Erika Allen coudn't overcome Pinellas Park's MVP Deterrica Simpkins 100 or 200, finishing second in both by a combined .61 seconds.
11. Lakewood's Devontae Persha won the 800 in 2:07.31, and had to hold off a challenge from Countryside's Andrew Llewellyn, who ran it in 2:08.91. It looked like Llewellyn was going to get to Persha coming around the last turn, but the Spartan showed a strong kick to keep his lead safe.
12. St. Petersburg's Declan Abernathy was fourth in the 800, running with a cast on. Turns out, Abernathy hurt his hand two-and-a-half years ago long boarding (riding a long skateboard) and just recently found out that the hand has been broken all this time. He said it really didn't bother him too much, "but I kind of knew something was wrong." When doctors figured it out, they put some pins in his wrist and now he's sporting a cast.
13. Osceola's Hunter McCann played onlooker to McKenna's awesomeness in the 1600 and 3200, but he did manage a third-place finish in each race to score points for the Warriors.
14. St. Petersburg's Sam Chandler was expected to give McKenna a race in the 3200, but the Cougar decided to go out quickly and see if he could end things early. But Chandler stayed within striking distance most of the race before finishing in 10:03.72. That time was 12 seconds behind McKenna, but 22 seconds ahead of third-place McCann.
15. Northeast's Jalin Hubbard won the high jump (5-10) and had the second-fastest prelim time in the 100 (behind Bromell), but had to skip the sprints with a muscle pull. Hubbard was expected to be Bromell's toughest competition in the 100 and 200, though the way the Gibbs star was running, it probably wouldn't have mattered much.
16. Wasn't sure the pole vault would ever end, but when it did, Osceola's Carson Waters was your winner with a vault of 14 feet. St. Petersburg's Cayman Ellis also jumped 14 feet, but had more misses. Both guys deserve a lot of credit, because it was cold and windy. In fact, pole vaulting may have drawn the loudest gasps from fans as one vaulter knocked the post that balances the bar down, and another almost missed the mat after boomeranging off the bar. It's a dangerous sport in bad conditions.