TAMPA — By mid-afternoon Tuesday, versatile Hillsborough speedster and USF football signee Terrence Mitchell was out of the county track meet, disqualified for using improper language during a controversial 100-meter preliminary.
That momentary lapse of character allowed Armwood to showcase its cast of characters.
Behind a variety of point-getters, the Hawks denied the short-handed Terriers a third consecutive county title with a nine-point victory at the Vernon F. Korhn Hillsborough County Championships at Jefferson. Wharton rallied in the final two events to win its fifth consecutive girls title.
Armwood's boys won two relays, got a high jump victory from freshman Leon McQuay, and watched senior Richard Jules set a school record (38.45 seconds) en route to winning the 300 hurdles. Additionally, Ben Hilton placed second in the mile with a personal best (4:34.51), while Shelldon Lewinson finished third in the shot put with a personal record (46 feet, 11 inches).
"It's balance," Hawks coach Chris Biernacki said. "It took a total team effort to get it done. We had every event covered but the long jump and 100 (meters) coming into the meet."
Mitchell, projected to account for roughly 20 points, stumbled out of the starting block in the 100 preliminary and pulled up about 30 meters later. He was accused of using profanity while arguing his starting block slipped out from under him and, after lengthy deliberation among race officials, was disqualified from the meet.
With Mitchell gone, senior teammate Jordan Worlds still won the 100 (11.14). Meantime, freshman Jeremiah Green placed fourth in the triple jump, ran Mitchell's leg for the 4x100 relay team that placed second, ran three heats of the 100, and finished seventh in the 200 finals despite cramping up.
Hillsborough finished with 74 points, four behind runnerup Plant.
"Jeremiah is a warrior, that's all I have to say," Terriers coach Joe Sipp said. "He stepped up and went above and beyond."
Wharton's girls trailed Tampa Bay Tech by three points with two events remaining, but the Wildcats rallied behind Abby Ritter's fourth-place finish (for five points) in the 3,200 and a victory in the 4x400 relay. Ritter also won the 1,600, slipping past Durant's Grace VanDeGrift in the final 15 meters. VanDeGrift, who has been nursing stress fractures in her hip, was competing in only her third meet of the season.
While the Wildcats girls and Armwood boys provided the balance, Lennard senior Demyco Winston offered the poignant tribute, winning the 400 in a county-best time of 49.20.
His inspiration? "I promised my mom for her (April 3) birthday gift I'd be a county champion."