WINTER PARK — Aaron Koch was the logical choice to step up to the podium for Tampa Prep's second-place finish in the 4x800 meters.
He was the one not vomiting.
In each 800-meter leg, the Terrapins took themselves to the limit of endurance. They cramped. They staggered. They wilted. But they kept running until it was no longer a race but a test of endurance.
Tampa Prep entered with the top seed time in the event, and the four runners were intent on winning their first state title.
Koch started the first leg before handing off the baton to Dan Pariseau, who passed it to Stephen Warner.
By the time Warner ran the third leg, the Terrapins started moving into contention, surging into fourth place, third, then second.
Finally, all the teams were behind them except for one, Winter Park Trinity Prep.
On the final leg, Chris Friedrich tried to find a higher gear, his body and mind protesting that he was not meant to run 800 meters this hard.
In the end, it was not enough.
Tampa Prep was the runnerup, finishing in a school-record 8:13, four seconds behind Trinity Prep.
"We gave everything we had in the race," Koch said. "It's just tough to stomach coming in second."
Afterward, Koch's teammates were sprawled on the infield, their chests rising and falling. Eventually, they trudged off the track. Friedrich, though, had to be carried off. He had ice packs around his neck and on his head.
The race took its toll on Friedrich. He dropped out of the 800.
Tampa Prep's Thomas Coverson was the only other county athlete to place at the meet, taking eighth in the discus with a throw of 127 feet, 5 inches.