TAMPA — Hillsborough’s jumping phenom, Jeremiah Green, has made the leap to college, but even without him the Terriers boys track team held fast at the top Saturday to claim its third straight Charles Johnson Invitational title.
The Terriers (89 points) posted second-place finishes in the triple jump, long jump, high jump, 110-meter hurdles and 300-meter hurdles to beat runnersup Freedom and Springstead (each with 81). Green, a Class 3A state triple jump champion who went beyond 50 feet at a national outdoor meet last year, is now on the Alabama track team.
This early season tuneup meet, hosted by King High, is typically heavy with Hillsborough County teams, but Wharton was also hosting an invitational to celebrate its new track, so there was room for out-of-area competitors such as Sebastian River and Tallahassee Godby. Sebastian River claimed the girls team title with 105 points and Freedom settled for runnerup (91), ahead of third-place Steinbrenner (79).
Two of the most exciting events of the day involved the host team in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays. In the boys 4x100 final, King trailed Godby for three legs until senior Dionte Poole got the baton and delivered a win for the Lions.
“(Godby) got up on us during the first exchange, but we stayed calm and waited to hit the mark,” local track legend Charles Johnson said, now an assistant at King. “Then (the King boys) kept coming on and they did their thing.”
The 4x400 final was no less thrilling. The Lions trailed Freedom until the third leg, when Darian Wright moved ahead. Senior Javontee Brice kept the lead and fought off Freedom’s final push.
The brightest individual stars were from Middleton. Senior Shug Rhynes, who led the county in receiving last fall, won the boys 100 meters final (10.71 seconds) and the 200 final (22.18) to be named meet MVP.
“If he works hard, has discipline and focus, I believe he could see the finals at states in both the 100 and the 200,” coach Derrick Rackard said.
Middleton sophomore Daniel Dean won both the 1,600 (4:41.80) and the 3,200 (10.07.77). Nearly matching the feat was teammate Deja Rodgers on the girls side. Rodgers, who battled a hip injury much of last season, settled for runnerup spots in both the 100 and 200 by slim margins; she was four-hundredths off in the 100 and three-hundredths off in the 200.
Springstead senior Bobby Harris challenged the meet record of 6 feet, 10 inches in the high jump after topping 6-8.
“(Clearing) 6-8 actually came pretty easy for me today, I was really confident going to get it,” said Harris, who just clipped the bar on his failed 6-10 attempts. “I’m hoping to get 7 feet by the end of the year.”
Harris, the defending Class 3A state champion in the high jump, cleared just 6-6 at last year’s Charles Johnson Invite. Eagles teammates Michael Miara (discus, 117 feet, 2 inches) and Jai Jackson (800 meters, 2:06.65) also won titles.
Anclote sophomore Emily Gauvey won the girls high jump at 5-6. Teammate Devonte Luis won the boys triple jump at 43-5.