SEFFNER — At the end of his long day, only a few feet from the finish line, Hillsborough senior Jeremiah Green sprawled out on the grass in a full-body cramp.
As he went through some stretching exercises to ease the pain, Green briefly considered all of his challenges Tuesday: speedy Tampa Bay Tech senior Deontae Williams, the grueling five-event afternoon and unseasonably cold temperatures.
“I just wanted to make it through the day,” Green said. “Hopefully it’ll be a little better than this next week.”
That sentiment virtually ruled the day at Armwood High, site of the county’s Western Conference National Division track and field meet. There were barely enough jackets, blankets and cups of hot chocolate to go around.
More daunting than the runners in the next lane or the pressure of advancing to the county championship were chilly and windy conditions that mostly made the day miserable for the athletes.
“This has been the coldest day we’ve had in a while,” Freedom girls track coach Dwight Smith said. “Right now, we’re just trying to save everyone’s legs.”
Green fared better than most, winning the triple jump (46 feet, 4 inches) and long jump (21-3) and finishing second behind Williams in the 100 and 200 meters. He finished with 36 points, leading the Terriers’ boys team to a division championship over Freedom.
Green’s winning marks fell far short of his season highs in both jumps. But he and his coaches figured out early that he would need only a few attempts to secure the victories and save himself for the running events.
But the wins didn’t come without leaving him painfully exhausted: Green’s first event started at 1 p.m. and he didn’t finish until almost eight hours later, when he narrowly lost to Williams in the 200.
“I’m not used to it being cold like this,” said Green, an Alabama signee who owns the nation’s longest triple jump this year. “This has been a really long day.”
The only person to defeat Green at Armwood was Williams, who doubles as one of the county’s fastest boys and a centerfielder on the Titans baseball team.
Williams edged Green in the 100 with a 10.71 then won a little more decisively in the 200 with a 21.8.
“I like competing against him,” Williams said. “I knew I had to get out fast and take the lead in the curve” in the 200.
Green’s Hillsborough teammate, senior Lil’Robert Wilson, finished first in the 400 (50.1 seconds) and 800 (2:08), overcoming his own difficulty in addition to the elements: a strained left hamstring that he tried desperately to keep from tightening up throughout the day.
Wilson had to hold off Middleton’s Gioberti Derogene in the 800, briefly surrendering the lead in the final curve before retaking the lead in the final 75 meters.
“I was just chilling,” said Wilson, who was also anchor leg on the Terriers’ second-place 1,600 relay team. “I knew he wasn’t going to beat me.”
Other big winners Tuesday: Williams; Hillsborough’s Jorian Ordway (girls 200, 400, 1,600 relay); Wharton’s Mikayla Barber (girls 100, 300 hurdles); Freedom’s Sandra Akachukwu (girls high jump, triple jump); Chamberlain’s Andrea Aaron (shot put, discus); Middleton’s Daniel Dean (boys 1,600, 3,200); and Tampa Bay Tech’s Caleb Chambliss (boys 110, 300 hurdles).