SEFFNER — Longtime Wharton coach Wes Newton played down the fact that both his boys and girls teams won Wednesday's Class 3A-10 district meet at Armwood.
It's more rewarding to win a county championship, he said. And as far as last year's state runnerup finish by his girls team last season?
"It's like kissing your sister," he said.
Nonetheless, the Wildcats took their first step toward states, with the girls beating an upstart Tampa Bay Tech team 173-134 and the boys holding off Armwood 156-138.
"That's our goal," said Newton, who could be coaching his final season as he will retire from teaching this year as part of the DROP program. "We want to win them both. Tampa Bay Tech (girls) gave us a better run than we thought. We had some good performances. We get all off our points at the back end of the meet anyway."
TBT trailed the Wharton girls by just three points at one point, but the Wildcats pulled away at the end of the meet, led by senior Amani Bryant's wins in the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and the long jump and Alyssa Franks' win in the 1,600 and 3,200.
"One of our biggest goals is to stay strong throughout the whole year," said Bryant, who finished the night running the final leg of Wharton's first-place 4x400 relay team. "It's easy to stay motivated because we're not just satisfied with beating the competition. We don't think about destroying the competition. It's about personal achievement."
The Wharton girls also received wins from Brooke Foley (800) and London Enos (pole vault), while in the boys, Sean Obinwa (800) and John Grellner (1600) earned Wharton wins. Both teams won their 4x800 relays.
"Every time we win it feels like the first time," said Franks, a transfer from Freedom. "It never gets old."
Brandon's Desmond McGill won the 110 and 300 hurdles and the triple jump.