SEFFNER — Wharton’s Bryanna Rivers always runs from behind. It’s where she likes to be, and her ability to kick down the stretch generally makes it a winning strategy.
There are times, though, such as Wednesday night, when she wonders if she ceded too much room, surrendered too many meters to make up.
This time, almost.
With a remarkable final lap, including a determined final 100 meters, Rivers needed every bit of her big kick to catch Armwood’s Lindsay Shealy and win the 1,600 meters, spurring the Wildcat girls to the National Division meet at Armwood.
Rivers’ winning time of 5 minutes, 24.87 seconds wasn’t her best, but it was 0.12 seconds enough to be one of five individual winners for the Wildcats, who also took the 4x400 and 4x800 relays.
“On the third lap, I thought I wasn’t going to catch her,” Rivers said. “I just wanted to stay strong until the end. (Around the final turn), I just said I gotta try to catch her.”
The top four in each event qualified for Tuesday’s county championship at Jefferson.
Rivers also won the 800 (and Shealy later won the 3,200), giving her two wins on the night.
Middleton had three athletes win two individual events, 1,600 and 3,200 winner Daniel Dean and sprinters Deja Rodgers and Anthony Rhynes.
The Tigers speedsters won their 100 and 200 meter individual sprints, and Rodgers added a stirring final leg — passing five runners — to give Middleton the 4x100 title.
Rodgers said earlier this year, she passed six runners in a final leg sprint at a meet at King.
“I call that fishing,” she said. “You see a fish, you reel it in. Then the next fish.”
The most important double winner of the night? Probably Armwood’s Jordan Greene.
With the Hawks winning only two other events (Byron Cowart in the shot put and Aaron Covington in the high jump), Greene’s victories in the 110- and 330-yard hurdles might have provided the difference in their boys victory.
Green won his races, respectively, in 15.17 and 39.73. Teammate Moses Wells was third in the 110 and second in the 300.
Federal: Newsome takes both titles
Newsome swept the Federal meet for the second straight year, and three records were broken — two by Spoto’s Janae Caldwell and one by Newsome’s Todd Jackson — at Spoto.
“We are a pretty close-knit team,” Newsome girls coach Orlando Green said. “You always want both teams to do well.”
Newsome’s boys totaled 177.5 points. Riverview was the runnerup at 134 and Bloomingdale third at 122. Newsome’s girls tallied 167.5. Riverview took second at 103, and Bloomingdale placed third at 95.
Jackson, who plans to sign with Florida International within the next two weeks, set a Federal record in the 400 for a second straight season with a 49.46.
“It feels pretty good,” he said. "But I’m hoping to run faster (at state).”
Caldwell set records in the 400 (58.91) and 200 (25.63). Her 400 time was well off last year’s pace, when she took second at state in 55.70.
“I feel like my performance in the 200 was better,” the sophomore said. “But the 400 is my race.”
Newsome combined for just six wins but relied on depth to rack up points. Jackson also won the 200 for both boys wins. The Wolves had four girls wins: Chanel Williams (long jump), Danielle Clark (pole vault), Emily Vannoy (1,600) and the 4x100 relay of Williams, Alina Stewart, Alexandria Thompson and Tyra Johnson.
Bloomingdale’s Cody Decker won the 110 and 300 hurdles. Teammates John Bryant and Andrew LeBlanc won the 1,600 and 800, respectively. In addition, LeBlanc anchored the winning 4x800 and 4x400 relays.
Riverview’s Maia Carter won the 100 and 300 hurdles. Teammate Reed Service also was a dual winner, taking first in the 100 and anchoring the 4x100.
American: Warriors’ girls rout the field
On a cool afternoon at Jefferson High, Steinbrenner turned up the heat and kept pouring it on.
The Warriors girls won the first event, the 4x800, in 9:53.20, resetting the school record they broke earlier in the season. They also won the last event of the day, the 4x400 in 4:14.10, to finish with 204.5 points. Second-place Plant (105) and third-place Alonso (104) were nearly doubled up.
“We stacked that (4x800),” Warriors coach Ladd Baldwin said. “We have four, actually five, that want to run it. And it’s a lot of hard work putting our best team on the track.”
Three of the four Warriors who ran the 4x800 also ran the 4x400 and fared well individually. Emily Petrus finished second in the 800 (2:26.70). Alex Sikoryak finished third in the 800 (2:28). And Samyah Maddox finished fourth in the 400 (1:01.80).
Sophomore Taylor Hotchkiss won the 300 hurdles (48.10) and was second in the 100 hurdles (16.80), second in the long jump (15 feet, 6 inches) and second in the triple jump (33-1). She was edged in the long jump by teammate Nicole Dorsey (16-8), who also finished third in the triple jump. Freshman Samantha Davilla won the shot put with a throw of 31-7.
The boys meet was tight between Steinbrenner and Jefferson. Just 5.5 points separated them entering the final event, the 4x400.
Blake stole the spotlight as it won in 3:32.60. Jermal Wiley ran the second leg and also won the 400 (50.40).
Steinbrenner took third, but Jefferson’s fifth-place finish allowed it to win 133-129.5. Plant was third with 103.
Jefferson was boosted by first-place finishes from Florida-commit Deiondre Porter in the long jump (22-41/2) and 200 (22.40).
The biggest surprise was Leto senior Rodney Jackson. Jackson, fresh off the baseball field and competing in his first ever individual events, won the 100 in 10.90 and helped the Falcons win the 4x100 (43.70) in front of a very fast Jefferson squad.
Distance dominator Jack Guyton of Plant got all he could handle from Robinson’s Jack Rodgers. Rodgers topped Guyton in Guyton’s only event, the 1,600 (4:23.70), then won the 800 in 2:00.20.
Gaither senior Rachel Cazares continued her dominance in the 800, winning in 2:25.10. Cazares also won the 1,600 in 5:21.90.
Plant distance runners Anna Montgomery and Bailley Sullivan finished within 0.01 seconds in the 3,200, Montgomery winning in 12:15.20 and Sullivan second in 12:15.21.
“It’s nice (running with Sullivan),” Montgomery said. “She pushes me at practice and at meets.”
Times correspondents Steve Lee and Andy Warrener contributed to this report.