Last week was a busy one for North of Tampa-area track and field athletes as some competed for state championships while others inched closer to their state meets.
Athletes from Cambridge Christian and Berkeley Prep competed in the Class A and 2A state championships last week, while Steinbrenner, Freedom, Alonso, Wharton and Chamberlain athletes made their marks in regional action.
Berkeley Prep's Addi Harden performed well at the 2A meet, placing second in the discus and fourth in the shot put. On the boys side, Max Borland placed third in the 3,200 meters.
At the Class A event, Cambridge's Madison Cox placed third in the 200 meters and fifth in the 100 meters. Triple-jumper Josh Wolcott finished fifth for Cambridge in the boys meet.
Meanwhile, the Class 3A and 4A regional meets last week whittled the number of athletes headed to more state competition.
The Steinbrenner boys, on the strength of three first-place finishes, took the Class 3A, Region 2 team title. Matt McGee took first in the 1,600 and third in the 800 while Tyler Lima was first in the 3,200. Tyler Lima, Zach Lima, Tanner Biles and Derek Gebhard combined for a win in the 4x800 relay.
On the girls side of the 3A-2 region meet, Chamberlain's Andrea Aaron continued her dominance in the shot put (first place) and discus (second place).
The Class 4A, Region 2 girls meet was highlighted by the usual North of Tampa track standouts. Wharton's Mikayla Barber and Tyler Watson and Freedom's Sandra Akachukwu and Faith Woodard all had standout performances on their way to the state meet.
Barber won the 100 hurdles while Watson took the 300 hurdles. Watson also placed fourth in the triple jump while Barber and Watson teamed with Stevondria Hardy and Kiana Outen to win the 4x400 meter relay.
Akachukwu was her usual dominant self, winning the 100-meter and 200-meter races and the long jump. She placed second in the high jump behind teammate Woodard, who in addition to that win, placed second in the 400 meters.
In the boys meet, Alonso's Brandon Robinson won the long jump, Wharton's Aerion Caldwell won the discus and Freedom's 4x400 relay team and 4x800 teams placed first and fourth, respectively.
Regional softball tournaments roll on
While Wharton, Sickles, Cambridge Christian and Carrollwood Day School all fell in regional quarterfinal play, Freedom and Chamberlain — the defending Class 7A state champs — moved on.
In 7A, Freedom scored two runs on five straight hits with two outs in the seventh inning to upset Countryside 2-0. Meanwhile, Chamberlain moved closer toward a possible repeat with a 5-0 region-play opening win against St. Petersburg. Pitcher Rachel Dwyer allow three hits in the win.
In other games, Wharton lost to Palm Harbor University 8-4 in 8A while Sickles was knocked out of 6A play with a 9-1 loss to Lakewood Ranch.
Cambridge and Carrollwood Day both suffered tough losses in extra innings.
Despite freshman pitcher Alea White's 16 strikeouts and a home run, Cambridge fell 2-1 to Southwest Florida Christian in 11 innings. And CDS lost 7-4 in nine innings to Lakeland Christian.
District baseball matchups continue
District baseball tournaments for North of Tampa-area squads featured continued success from a dominant Cambridge program, Wharton and Berkeley Prep going on unexpected runs, a first for Steinbrenner and Leto returning to region play for the first time in a decade.
In Class 8A-7, Wharton shook off a winless mark in district play during the regular season to advance to the district finals, where it fell 5-1 to Durant. Steinbrenner, meanwhile, defeated Wiregrass Ranch 4-0 to win 7A-9 to start its first region run at home.
Leto lost to King in the 6A-11 final but the Falcons still move on, reaching region play for the first time since the 2003 season.
Meanwhile, Berkeley Prep, which dropped its last seven regular season games, upset top-seed Tampa Catholic 6-0 to win Class 4A, District 9. And Cambridge, behind eight strikeouts in four innings from starting pitcher Nick Eicholtz, smashed Bayshore Christian 8-1 for the 2A-8 district crown, its fifth straight.
Basketball, softball players pick colleges
After playing his entire senior season without a college scholarship offer, Wharton guard C.J. McGill is headed to the University of Mobile. And he is doing so with a ton of accomplishments.
A 5-foot-9, 145-pound point guard, McGill averaged 17 points and five assists per game this season while leading the Wildcats to the Class 8A final four. McGill, a three-year starter, also was a 1,000-point career scorer for the Wildcats. During his time in New Tampa, McGill helped Wharton win 76 of 87 games.
He heads to college as the Alston "Mac" McGahagin Award winner, as Hillsborough County's top senior basketball player. He also earned second-team all-state honors from the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches.
"C.J. is a very talented young man, and we are excited to get him on board," Mobile head coach Joe Niland said in a statement.
Also, Chamberlain softball standout pitcher Rachel Dwyer is headed to the University of Virginia. Dwyer, who has already earned a region victory as the Chiefs try to repeat as Class 7A state champions, is 16-6 this season with a 0.75 ERA and 137 strikeouts.
Dwyer, whose career pitching record is 58-11, is one of four Chiefs headed to college softball diamonds. Catcher Lindsey Hagberg will play at Harvard, infielder Amber Fullwood has signed with Florida A&M and outfielder Zalonzia Canady has signed with South Florida State College.