WINTER PARK — Thea Linkfield had modest goals in the 100-meter hurdles.
The Countryside senior was seeded 13th in the preliminaries and wanted to make up enough ground to reach the final. If she accomplished that, she hoped to not finish last.
She surpassed all her expectations Saturday at the Class 4A state meet in Winter Park.
Not only did Linkfield reach the final, she finished fourth with a personal-record 14.87 seconds, the first time she ran under 15 seconds in her career.
"I definitely surprised myself with what I was able to do," Linkfield said. "I felt so good in the preliminaries and finals."
The event Linkfield was aiming for a top-four finish in was the 300 hurdles. She accomplished that, too, taking fourth in 44.27 seconds, another personal record.
"I got off to a good start in the finals, but my form was a little off," Linkfield said of the 300. "I was trying to get my time in the low 44s, and that was what I was able to do."
The other girls place-winners in the county were Clearwater's Courtney O'Donoghue, who was sixth in the pole vault (10 feet), and East Lake's Alicia Aldridge, seventh in the 800 meters (2 minutes, 19.94 seconds).
On the boys side, Seminole distance runner Chase Sutton was the highest place-winner, taking third in the 1,600 in 4:16.18.
Sutton was coming off a first-place finish at region, where he used a devastating kick to make up enough ground to win. He used the same strategy Saturday, stalking the pacesetters before making his move.
But he didn't have enough to leapfrog John I. Leonard's Ryan Pickering and Miami Columbus' Armando Del Valle, who took first and second, respectively.
"I was pleased because this was my first year running the 1,600," Sutton said. "Pickering was out too far. I tried to kick and catch Armando, but he was able to pull it out (for second, by just over 1 second)."
Countryside's boys team, which won district and region titles, had its depth thinned Saturday so much it had to focus on individual titles.
The Cougars' had three place-winners in individual events. Derek Messmore was seventh in the 400 (50.50), Ricy Brown was eighth in the 800 (1:56.69) and Parker Polgar was eighth in the pole vault (13 feet).
Brown teamed with Matthew Worner, Jacob Hermann and Kostas Fotopoulos on the 4x800 relay that took fourth (7:54.35). In the 4x400, Brown, Hermann and Messmore combined with Wylan Bernitt to finish seventh (3:21.20).