WINTER PARK — The winner in the Class A girls triple jump had yet to be determined Friday, but the sentimental favorite already had.
She was Shorecrest's Samantha Specht, who has been tantalized by close calls, the equivalent of the actress always watching someone else accept the Oscar. Six times Specht, a senior, has finished second in an individual event at state, including three times in the triple jump.
And through three jumps in the preliminaries and two in the finals, it appeared the senior would miss out on the ultimate prize — again.
On her last attempt, though, she delivered.
Specht hit the board well and twice bounded low through the hop and step phases. Then in the jump, she rose with remarkable power in the pit.
Specht cleared a season-best 34 feet, 6¾ inches to leapfrog seventh-grader Darrielle McQueen of North Florida Christian. In an event that measures champions in fractions of inches, Specht won by the slimmest of margins.
The difference: A quarter of an inch.
"At first I didn't believe that I won, but I teared up after I found out," said Specht, who has been a state qualifier since the sixth grade. "On that last jump, I just blocked everything out. I told myself that I want this, and I'm going for it."
Calvary Christian's Pierce Hutcheson was the county's other state champion, taking the 300 hurdles in 40.18. The junior, who started running hurdles this season, set a personal record for the third straight week.
"I won the region meet last week so I figured I might have a shot," Hutcheson said. "I felt I had the race after the first turn."
Admiral Farragut's Josh Burch wasn't able to defend his title in the long jump, finishing second with a leap of 22-111/2. He took seventh in the triple jump.
Northside Christian's 4x800 team of Sarah Schultz, Rachel Logemann, Victoria Goodwin and Katelyn Greenleaf finished third in 9 minutes, 38.05 seconds.
Goodwin and Logemann teamed with Melissa Tomlin and Malina Sequin to finish sixth in the 4x400 relay.
Greenleaf was fifth in the 1,600 (5:10.20) and teammate NaTasha Goodwin was fourth in the 100 hurdles (5:10.20). Keswick Christian's Hannah Palm, Rachel Kistemaker, Stephanie Kistemaker and Mary Jacubec took fifth in the 4x800 (9:54.90).
AFA's Donovan Erbe was fourth in the pole vault (13-0) and Northside Christian's Will Scott fourth in the high jump (6-2). Indian Rocks Christian's Patrick Yancey, Sean Culkin, Isaac McMillen and Buddy Kaufman finished sixth in the 4x400 in 3:31.83.