NEW PORT RICHEY — Ridgewood senior Karissa Bertling has already achieved quite a bit during her prep career.
Bertling, the 2010 St. Petersburg Times’ girls track and field athlete of the year, won four district titles as a junior, claiming gold in the high jump, 100, 200 and 400. She brought home three Sunshine Athletic Conference titles, region titles in the 200 and the 400 and earned a bronze medal in the 200 at the Class 3A state track and field finals last season.
Next year, Bertling will take her talents to Division I-A East Tennessee State, but before she leaves Ridgewood, there’s still one more accomplishment she’d like to put on her resume: the school record in the 200.
Bertling owns the mark for the 100 after running a stopwatch-timed 11.8 last season to match former Rams legend Char Foster.
Foster, though, owns the 200 record of 24.3. Bertling’s personal best in the 200, her top event, is 24.63.
“I’m definitely going to get that 200 mark this year,” Bertling predicted. “I want to beat that one.”
Of course, Bertling is also focused on a state title, which has eluded her. Last season, Bertling made it to the finals in three events and thinks that might have actually hindered her chances of claiming a state title.
“I learned last year from running three events and making it to the finals in all three events, I think I’m probably going to drop one event if I do make it to states in all three and just concentrate on only two so I have more of a break,” Bertling said. “Last year, right after I finished one event, I’d have to be running another, so I didn’t have any time to break or recuperate. I wasn’t running my full potential like I should have been.”
Bertling has already established her legacy as one of the greatest track athletes to come out of Ridgewood. She’ll try to cement her status as one of the area’s best ever by matching or exceeding last year’s performance level.
“I just take a lot of pride in her and what she’s done for the school and what she’s done for herself,” Ridgewood coach Sue Vien said.
“When you send an athlete to college, they represent your high school and your program. She knows that, and she’ll do a good job with that.”
Girls to watch
Ravin Gilbert, Jr., Wesley Chapel: Was seventh in the 200 meters at regionals in 2010 after running 26.83.
Ariel Grey, Sr., Wiregrass Ranch: Another in a long line of strong distance runners for a loaded Bulls squad.
Tori Harris, Sr., Bishop McLaughlin: Threw the discus 111 feet, 6 inches to earn seventh (Class A) at state as a junior.
Raqurra Ishmar, Sr., Central: Earned the silver medal at the 3A state meet in the shot put.
Jazzmyn Love-Roberts, Sr., Wesley Chapel: Teams with Gilbert to give the Wildcats an explosive 1-2 punch in the sprints.
Jamieshea Parker, Sr., Zephyrhills: Won’t be available until midseason (ACL tear), but when healthy, Parker’s one of the best sprinters around.
Tikiera Relaford, Sr., Central: Jumped 5 feet, 6 inches to win 3A title in the high jump as a junior.
Nikita Shah, So., Wiregrass Ranch: A Times’ all-North Suncoast first-team selection in the 3200 a year ago.
Kelli Williams, Sr., Mitchell: The Times’ 2010 cross country runner of the year placed fifth at state in the 1600 a year ago.
Nicole Woodard, Sr., Land O’Lakes: Volleyball and basketball star takes aim at a long jump state title.
Feb. 26: Mitchell Early Bird Invitational
March 4: Chasco Invitational
March 8: Land O’Lakes Invitational
March 19: USF/Steinbrenner Invitational
March 24: Hernando Kiwanis Invitational
April 7: Hernando County track meet
April 9: SAC conference championship
April 13: Wiregrass Relays
April 15: Ridgewood Invitational
April 11-16: Districts (Class A, 2A)
April 18-23: Districts (Class 3A, 4A)
April 20-22: Regionals (Class A, 2A)
April 27-29: Regionals (Class 3A, 4A)
April 29: Class A state finals
April 30: Class 2A state finals
May 6: Class 3A state finals