CLEARWATER — They came blazing around the final turn in the 800 meters, a sea of Countryside color with just a splash of blue.
Then Cougars coach Eileen Givens leaned over the railing and started hollering, and Matthew Worner's legs started churning just a little bit faster. And that splash of blue?
Worner's final push gave the Cougars a 1-2-3-4 sweep (he was preceded by winner Ricy Brown, Jacob Herrmann and Constantine Fotopoulos) and punctuated another dominant Countryside performance as it rolled to the Class 4A, District 5 track title at Clearwater High on Wednesday night.
The Cougars, who will send 15 athletes to next week's region meet, scored 227 points to easily outdistance second-place Seminole, which had 121 points.
The girls made it a Cougar sweep, winning the last race of the night, the 4x400 relay, by nearly 10 seconds to seal a 126-120 advantage over Seminole.
The Cougar girls were led by Thea Linkfield, who swept both hurdles races, took third in the triple jump and anchored the 4x400 team, which won in 4 minutes, 13.96 seconds.
"We knew it was close," Countryside coach Rob Saltz said. "I told the girls we needed that last race, and they nearly set a school record."
Saltz said it was some surprise points from the likes of Olivia Magdziak (second in the high jump) and pole vaulters Elizabeth Mason (fourth) and Jenna Luther (fifth) that nudged his team into first.
Other top performances on the girls side included double-winners Destiny Jenkins, Clearwater's sophomore sprinter who took the 100 and 200, Seminole's Kaitlyn Homme, who captured the mile and 2-mile runs, Seminole thrower Cassandra Schwab (shot and discus) and St. Petersburg's Nia Berthelot, who won the high jump and long jump.
The Cougar boys won their fifth straight district title.
And Givens, who won 12 consecutive titles at Lakewood, improved to 17-for-17 in her career at district meets.
Countryside was buoyed by Brown, Brenton Conley and Jake Herrmann, all of who advanced in the maximum four events.
The Cougars took four of the top six spots in the long and triple jumps.
Conley won the triple jump and ran a career best in taking second in the 200 behind Seminole's Reagan Beal, who also won the 100 for the Warhawks in 10.98 seconds.
John C. Cotey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6261.