It started in January when Lakewood’s Shaquem Griffin, the Class 2A defending state champion in the triple jump, uncorked a gravity-defying leap of 47 feet, 2¼ inches in his signature event.
A month later, East Lake’s Artavis Scott and George Campbell broke school records in the same event. Campbell cleared 46-11 only to watch Scott leap past him with a jump of 48-½.
Days later, Griffin’s twin brother, Shaquill, cleared 47-2.
All four marks rank among the top 11 nationally.
Shaquem disputes his mark, saying he leaped 48-3 but it was not measured correctly.
It illustrates just how competitive the triple jump will be as these athletes try to leapfrog each other not only for county supremacy but to see who ranks highest in the nation.
And that’s just one event.
Pinellas County track is so deep this season, particularly among the boys, that there are nine events in which athletes have posted times that rank among the top 50 in the nation.
Shaquem Griffin factors in a lot of them. His mark of 23-8 in the long jump is currently third-best in the nation, and he has run anchor legs on the Spartans’ 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams that were tops in the nation at one point this season.
That kind of depth gives Lakewood a legitimate chance at winning a team title. But there are plenty of other county athletes who could come home with medals, as well as nationally ranked times.
Boys to watch
Trayvon Bromell, Sr., Gibbs: County’s top sprinter has already posted nationally ranked times in the 100 (10.51) and 200 (21.76).
George Campbell, So., East Lake: The football recruit is ranked among the county’s best in the 200 and triple jump.
Ryan Green, Sr., St. Petersburg Catholic: The Florida State football recruit took off the first month of the season and is back to run the 100 and 200.
Shaquem Griffin, Sr., Lakewood: The Times’ 2012 track athlete of the year could win state titles in four events — the long jump, triple jump, 4x100 and 4x400.
Shaquill Griffin, Sr., Lakewood: Teams with his twin Shaquem to form one of the nation’s best tandems in long and triple jump, as well as the sprint relays.
Tim Holmes, Sr., Lakewood: His times in the 110 hurdles (14.55) and 300 hurdles (38.55) rank among the top 25 nationally.
Jalin Hubbard, Jr., Northeast: He has the misfortune of competing in the same sprints (100, 200) as Bromell but still ranks among the top two in the county in each event.
Ben Kieler, Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic: After placing eighth at state last year, Kieler is leaping to new heights after clearing 6-4 at a meet this season.
Paul McKenna, Sr., Countryside: The county’s top boys distance runner has gone under 10 minutes in the 3,200 (9:57).
Artavis Scott, Jr., East Lake: The standout receiver will challenge Shaquem Griffin for county supremacy in the triple jump after going 40-0.5 this year.
Girls to watch
Chaise Cook-Martin, Sr., Boca Ciega: County’s top triple jumper placed third in the event at state last year.
Jeanna Cube, Jr., Osceola: Placed third at state in the high jump last year and has a personal best of 5-6.
Alex Eaton, Jr., Shorecrest: Distance specialist already has won titles at big meets in the 1,600 and 3,200.
Sharell Keys, Sr., Lakewood: Could place in the top eight at state this year after missing out on a medal last year.
Jennifer Kistemaker, So., Osceola: Versatile athlete will help the Warriors score in the field events and hurdles.
Jasmine Laska, Sr., Pinellas Park: The county’s top returner in the throwing events won the discus (111-8) and shot put (32-3) last month at the Early Bird Eagle Invitational.
Brittany McGee, So., Admiral Farragut: Has been dominant early in the season and is the favorite to win state titles in the 300 hurdles and high jump.
Kelly Shanahan, Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic: Took third at state in the 300 hurdles last season and won the event at the Berkeley Prep Invitational last week.
Amanda Spring, Sr., Northeast: Cross country standout is emerging as one of the county’s best middle distance runners.
Hannah Welsh, Sr., Dunedin: Her high jump leap of 5-4 at the Early Bird Eagle Invitational ranks among the state’s best.