SEFFNER — When he reflects on his latest region title, veteran Wharton girls track coach Wes Newton will have plenty upon which to fondly dwell: His relay teams' depth, his pole vaulter's dominance, and Abby Ritter's determination.
The latter was particularly priceless Thursday at Armwood.
Ranked eighth and 10th, respectively, in the region in the 1600 and 3200 meters, the lean junior finished third in both races to help the Wildcats slip past Vero Beach in the Class 4A, Region 2 meet.
"The hero of the night has to be Abby Ritter," said Newton, whose team earned 79 points, 17 ahead of Vero Beach. "What a competitor. My hat goes off to her."
Moments after Bailey's 3200, the Wildcats' 4x400 team — Erin Kocher, Tyler Watson, Shannon Meggs and Stevondria Hardy — clinched things in the last race, winning in 3:58.10.
It provided a fitting bookend to the 'Cats' day.
Kocher and Meggs — a sophomore and senior captain, respectively — also ran on the victorious 4x800 team and finished second and third, respectively, in the 800.
Meantime, defending state champion pole vaulter London Enos matched her personal best of 11 feet to win her event after scratching on her first try of the day from 10 feet.
Other area girls winners: Plant underclassman Caroline Gibson in the 3200 (with a valiant late surge), and Tampa Bay Tech's Jasmyn Perry in the 400.
On the boys side, Plant's 4x100 team edged St. Petersburg despite what anchor man Allen Sampson called a day of "terrible handoffs."
Tony Posada (shot put) and Brian Baird (pole vault) also won titles for the Panthers, whose 59 points were third behind Port St. Lucie (68) and Countryside (114).
Chamberlain senior Mark Parrish held off Melbourne rival Brian Atkinson to win the 3200 in 9:22.40. Earlier, Parrish intentionally pulled up in the 1600 to save himself for the longer race.
Chiefs sophomore Max del Monte, who owns the nation's best 1600 time for 10th graders, was upset by Seminole's Chase Sutton, who made a nasty kick in the final 300 meters to win by five seconds in 4:21.11.