BROOKSVILLE — Depth wins, and that’s what Wiregrass Ranch used to decimate the competition at Thursday’s Kiwanis Invitational at Hernando.
The Bulls won the girls title with 129 points, easily outpacing Crystal River. Although the team had only three individual winners, the ability of the Bulls to place athletes in almost every event made the difference over.
Ariel Grey won the 1600 meters and Nikita Shah took first in the 3200. Kelsey Sturman’s leap of 9 feet, 6 inches was enough to narrowly edge out two other girls for the pole vault title.
Wiregrass Ranch (105 points) also emerged with the boys title, dethroning defending three-time champion Nature Coast.
With the Sharks (64 points) falling all the way to fourth in this year’s standings, a bright spot was sprinter Ja’Juan Story and his usual dominance in the 100. In what was arguably the deepest event, Story won handily with a run of 11.22 seconds over Zephyrhills’ Jamal Roberts (11.39) and Hernando’s Quentin Adams (11.42) and Tyrail Hawkins (11.45). Story also won the 200.
Meanwhile, Wiregrass Ranch’s boys enjoyed individual wins from Travis Manecki (shot put) and Josh Reilly (800).
There were multiple individual efforts to provide highlights. Land O’Lakes’ Nicole Woodard easily won the long jump and surprised spectators with her upset of Central’s Tikiera Relaford in the high jump.
Relaford won the state championship in the high jump last season, but complained about trouble with the footing on her start point Thursday. Her leap of 5 feet was 2 inches less than Woodard’s. Last season, the girls tied at Kiwanis.
“I don’t have a certain spot I like to start at,” Woodard said, “and I think that gives me an advantage. It gets into their heads when I can just go out there and do my thing.”
Ridgewood’s Karissa Bertling was another standout, sweeping the sprints. Her wins in the 100, 200 and 400 were impressive considering she defeated a different runner in every race. Zephyrhills’ Kara Young was behind Bertling in the 200 and Central’s Relaford took the spot in the 400.