WINTER PARK — As Steinbrenner junior Alexis Wright and Academy of the Holy Names sophomore Ryann McEnany exited the grass infield after the 100-meter hurdles final at the Class 2A state track and field meet at Winter Park's Showalter Field, Wright threw her arms around McEnany in an embrace.
McEnany was near tears after falling twice and crossing the finish line in last (eighth) place.
Wright had just won in 15.05 seconds to capture her first state title.
Her joy, however, could wait. McEnany needed consoling. Wright had been through this before; she was ninth in the 100 hurdles preliminaries at state last year and just missed qualifying for the final.
"I could definitely relate," Wright said.
Wright offered encouragement, told McEnany to stay focused, to stay motivated and she too could be on top of the podium stand in just a year.
"I promised myself I'd never feel that way again, and here I am," Wright said. "I trained and I trained and I trained. … It took everything that I had, but I did it."
For Wright, the day was still far from over. Participating in her third state meet, Wright grabbed a silver medal in the triple jump after reaching 36 feet, 11 3/4 inches on her final attempt. She was eighth in the triple jump a year ago and was within striking distance of gold medalist Raigyne Moncrief of American Heritage (37 feet, 1/2 inch) this time.
"The last three meets, my last jump has been my best," Wright said. "It always turns out that the last jump is going to be the one that determines who wins. I just gave it all I got."
Wright also grabbed bronze in the 300-meter hurdles (45.32 seconds).
Jesuit junior Isaac Edwards left Winter Park with mixed emotions.
He was thinking he might have secured a state championship the moment the discus left his hand on his fifth attempt. As he scanned the horizon for his throw, Edwards saw nothing but clear, blue sky. A piece of netting that made up the safety cage around the throwing circle had blown into the path of his throw and knocked down his discus, resulting in a foul.
"I thought it was the big one," said an agitated Edwards, who still finished third with a top throw of 169 feet in the finals. "I definitely knew it was over 170 (feet). I was just so disappointed."
Edwards rallied in the shot put, achieving a personal-best mark of 57 feet, 4 inches to earn a silver medal.
"I decided to channel my anger into something else," Edwards said. "I went over to the shot put and had a good series, started at 53 (feet) and built all the way up to 57 feet, 4 inches and felt really good about that."
Middleton picked up a pair of medals in the 800-meter run. Amber Brooks, a senior, was second in the girls race in 2 minutes, 18.18 seconds. Arthur Casey, also a senior, was third in the boys race (1:55.40).
Steinbrenner's 4x800 relay of Matt Magee, Dan Sarver, Matt Sarver and Zech Cesani won bronze after finishing in 8:04.37. Middleton's 4x800 boys relay came in fifth.
Jesuit's Blake Lopez placed fourth in the 1,600-meter run (4:28.30) and sixth in the 800 meters (1:57.95). Franck Charles of Middleton was one spot behind Lopez in the 1,600 in 4:29.16.
Tallahassee Godby won its second straight Class 2A boys team championship with 65 points, beating Orlando Jones (47). Jesuit, with 22 points, placed eighth. Middleton tied for 15th with 14 points.
The American Heritage Plantation girls also defended their team title after gaining 92 points. Lake Wales (50) was second. Steinbrenner, at 24 points, tied for eighth place.
Times staff writer Bryan Burns can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.