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TAMPA — The winning teams at the 18th annual Charles Johnson Invitational represented opposite ends of the spectrum.
Hillsborough won the boys meet for the sixth time in seven years while Freedom’s girls notched their first invitational victory in school history.
The Hillsborough boys totaled 86 points, well ahead of runnerup Springstead’s 54 and Jefferson’s 52.5 at King’s Bill Stewart Stadium.
In the girls meet, Freedom scored 91 followed by Academy of the Holy Names’ 83 and Alonso’s 62.
The male and female athletes of the meet were Hillsborough’s Jeremiah Green and Freedom’s Sandra Akachukwu.
“I attribute it to the kids,” Hillsborough coach Joe Hipp said of his team’s success in the meet. “It’s the first big meet of the year. They kind of get up for it.”
Freedom coach Dwight Smith lauded Akachukwu, who won the high jump and long jump, along with Jasmyn Perry, Anel Smith, Alexandra Mitchell and Sacha Cruz.
“(Akachukwu is) really amazing. But it’s not just her,” he said. “We have a bunch of athletes this year who are stepping up.”
Green won the long jump, triple jump and 200 meters, the Hillsborough boys’ only victories. The Terriers’ lone girls win came from Jorian Ordway in the 400.
Host King had one victory, Carrol Hardy in the 200.
Actually, the Lions had another win. Charles Johnson, a 1987 King graduate, anchored the winning 4x100 relay in a post-meet alumni race.
Johnson was a five-time state champion as a senior, winning the 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles, long jump, triple jump and decathlon. His wife, Deirdre Johnson, coaches track at King.