TAMPA — Rapidly improving Jefferson hosted the Western Conference’s American Division meet Wednesday afternoon. However, two miscues opened the door for Plant, which got a lift from a contingent from the football team to win the team competition with 175 points.
The Panther girls team also won with 177 points. They were chased down in the last event by Steinbrenner, which finished with 159. The top four from each event advance to next week’s American Division Championships.
There are savory story lines in the hurdles all over Hillsborough County, starting with Steinbrenner senior Alexis Wright, the defending 2A state champion in the 100 hurdles. She continued her dominance by sweeping the 100 and 300 hurdles and the triple jump (36 feet, 6 inches). Gaither senior Ariel Moore was right on her heels in the 300 hurdles.
On the boys side, junior William Taylor-Haynes of Alonso, the fifth seed, exploded onto the scene, snatching the 110 hurdles title from favorites Samson Moore of Gaither and Jefferson’s Charles Booth. Taylor-Haynes ran a 14.588, a time that would have put him in the final at last year’s Class 4A state meet. Gaither senior Paul Barrett won the 300 hurdles but was pressed hard by Jefferson senior Jawuan Coffee.
Coffee had the fastest qualifying time in the 200 meters but was disqualified in the final for a false start. He rallied by running a blistering third leg of the 4x400 relay. The Jefferson boys finished in 3:22.55, outpacing the field by nearly five seconds.
After battling through some early-season injuries, Alonso junior Quatasia Fantroy won the 400 (59.941 seconds), the 200 (25.79) and the long jump (17-6). She also anchored the 4x100 relay team that took first.
“Today felt great, I feel like I’m 100 percent,” Fantroy said.
Teammate and senior Eddie Castillo won the boys 200 meters in 22.891 seconds.
Gaither junior Kiana Bryant took the girls 100 in 12.424 and finished just behind Fantroy in the 200.
The Plant football team scored a few touchdowns to help its already distance-strong team. Senior Michael Dvornik won the discus (140-9) and the shot put (43-1).
“My dad was a junior Olympian and a state champion thrower; he’s mentored me on form since the seventh grade,” Dvornik said. “Throwing has a lot to do with form.”
Panthers junior Kyle Groh led the 4x800 relay team to victory, senior Antonio Crawford won the 100 meters (11.129), and the Plant 4x100 team — all football players — took first. Jefferson’s 4x100 team had the Panthers beat but a bad exchange on the last handoff spoiled it.
Plant and Steinbrenner traded blows in the distance races. The Panthers scored three of the four spots in the girls 800, 1600 and 3200. The Warriors grabbed two of the four spots in the boys 1600 and one in the 3200.