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Class 3A state track: Wharton shines brightest among area teams

WINTER PARK — At last season's Class 3A state meet, on this same rubberized red surface, Wharton hurdler Amani Bryant ran with a fractured right foot.

In Friday's sequel, the Wildcat junior simply ran with a purpose, producing the same result.

On a sweltering, surreal day for the Wharton girls and boys at Showalter Field, Bryant won her second consecutive state title in the 300-meter hurdles, putting yet another Wildcats paw on a medal stand filled with them. Wharton's girls finished fourth as a team (41 points). The boys were seventh (26).

Wharton's boys 4x800 relay team opened the day by coasting to a state title, while 'Cats sophomore London Enos won the girls pole vault with an 11-foot effort and senior first-year runner Sean Obinwa — the anchor leg on that 4x800 team — won the 800. Obinwa later ran on the third-place 4x400 relay team.

Bryant, who shared the title of busiest Wildcat with Obinwa, exited with four medals. She notched a personal-best time (42.80 seconds) in the 300 hurdles after a runnerup finish in the 100 hurdles (14.73), placed sixth in the long jump (17-8.25) and finished her day anchoring the eighth-place 4x400 team.

"I wanted to get out strong (in the 300 hurdles) and be ahead of the pack before I hit the curve," Bryant said. "The curve hurdles are the roughest hurdles to deal with because it's hard gauging it. I wanted to be smooth over the curve hurdles and just go for it towards the straightaway. I executed my plan pretty well."

Earlier Friday, with the feel-like temperature nudging past 90, the members of the Wildcat boys 4x800 team could feel every sweltering degree of it right down to their shoes. Hence the reason they took the winner's stand in socks.

Maintaining a pace just shy of their personal-best but far better than anyone else's, the 'Cats — Obinwa, senior John Grellner, senior Gilbert Rodriguez and junior Nick Swain — coasted to the title in a time of 7:49.24. Oakland Park Northeast (7:55.34) was second. Grellner was the team's lone returner from 2008.

Elsewhere, Blake senior Marissa McEleveen atoned for a career of near-misses with a triple jump title (39-9). McEleveen placed third in the event in 2008 and second as a sophomore.

Hillsborough's boys struggled to a fifth-place finish (31 points). Junior Terrence Mitchell, the top seed in the long and triple jumps, finished second in both. The most devastating blow came when senior Lindsey Lamar was disqualified from the 100 for a false start. Lamar, nursing a sore hamstring, also qualified for the 400 finals but didn't race.

Others, quite literally, were just happy to be there. Among them: Freedom pole vaulter Trent Wiseman, who finished fourth (14 feet). Freedom was one of three county schools temporarily closed for swine-flu concerns. All 15 Freedom qualifiers were tested Thursday and cleared to compete.

"I didn't jump my best (Friday), but it was an amazing day," Wiseman said. "I wanted to be in the surroundings with all my friends, all my fellow vaulters and just experience the meet."

Class 3A state track: Wharton shines brightest among area teams 05/08/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 8, 2009 11:57pm]
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