ST. PETERSBURG — Lakewood boys track coach Anthony Snead knows how precarious relay meets can be. There are a number of things that can go wrong. A hurdler could fall. A jumper could scratch.
It all happened to the Spartans on Friday night.
In the 4x100 shuttle hurdle relay, Lakewood failed to place in the top eight after Jordan Williams tumbled over one of the hurdles. And the Spartans were disqualified from the long jump relay after two jumpers scratched in their three attempts.
Without scoring in two events Lakewood had been favored to win at the Richard Allen Relays, Snead thought his chances of winning the team title were over.
But the Spartans’ depth, bolstered this season by the addition of several football players, paid off. Lakewood cleaned up in the sprints to help make up enough ground to win with 76 points, 29 ahead of Osceola.
“I guess I was wrong about not having a chance,” Snead said. “I really didn’t think we could win without scoring in those events. But the depth is so strong. The guys have really done a good job of working the hallways and getting kids to come out for track.
“We tried to keep our depth a secret, but I guess we can’t anymore.”
As expected, the Spartans dominated the 4x100 and 4x400 relays, events where they already hold nationally ranked times.
Marquez Valdes, a receiver who signed last month with North Carolina State, put a lot of ground between himself and the rest of the competition with blistering anchor leg in the 4x100. Lakewood won the event in 42.03 seconds, more than two seconds ahead of Gibbs.
After missing the 4x400 at last week’s St. Petersburg Championship meet, Tim Holmes was back to run the anchor leg. He helped the Spartans extend their already sizeable lead as the relay team won in 3:35, seven seconds ahead of Pinellas Park.
Lakewood also won the 4x200 relay (1:31.94), the 1,000-yard sprint medley (1:58.80) and the discus (34.64 meters).
Gibbs’ Trayvon Bromell, who won the 100- and 200-meter races at last week’s St. Petersburg Championship meet, pulled out of the running events Friday because of muscle cramps. The move was more a precautionary measure because of the cold weather.
In the girls meet, East Lake won thanks to a strong relay performance in the distance and field events. The Eagles won just two events, the 4x200 (1:51.78) and 4x800 (10:44) but placed in the top four in eight others.
That helped East Lake score 74.5 points, beating Countryside by 11.5.