Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hooper: Just watch this test of track and field skills

Chamberlain’s Amanda Leland, left, might be out for some payback in today’s 100 and 200 races.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Chamberlain’s Amanda Leland, left, might be out for some payback in today’s 100 and 200 races.

Track and field may be the least appreciated of all prep sports, and I don't know why.

It's running, jumping and throwing — the original sports — still on display in the same basic form used in ancient times. Sure, track has strategy, but ultimately it comes down to who can run fast, jump high and throw far.

Lace 'em up, line up and go.

Where else can you see multiple sports neatly woven into a singular event? Where else can you witness a competition so pure and simple, yet so thrilling? Every race has the potential to be a mini-drama of grimacing faces, pumping arms and burning hamstrings.

The stands should be packed, but you don't see many fans beyond family and friends. It's a shame, especially considering the caliber of county athletes this season.

Today's region meets offer one of the last chances to see these stars, many who rank among the state and nation's best. Gaither plays host to the 4A-2 meet, or you can make the drive to Punta Gorda Charlotte High for the 3A-3 meet.

At Gaither, Chamberlain's Dentarius Locke heads the list. I call Locke "Killjoy" because he's taken all the fun out of the 100- and 200-meter events this year. Nationally ranked, his initial burst is so quick the race is over before it starts. He looks fast even when he walks.

One of the best races will be in the boys 1,600 and 800. Durant's John Mitchell will have to beat an entire family to succeed. He'll face Sickles' Derek Wehunt in the 1,600 and brother Daniel Wehunt in the 800. Derek also is a favorite in the 3,200.

On the girls side, Plant City's Jasmine Pope and Chamberlain's Amanda Leland renew their rivalry after a photo finish at districts. Pope edged Leland by .004 of a second in the 100, and by .33 in the 200, but don't count out Leland.

Durant's Grace VanDeGrift also may end up singing a victory song. Fresh off a win in last week's Brandon Idol — she played guitar and performed Taylor Swift's White Horse — she will look to repeat that success in the 1,600 and 3,200 at Gaither.

Hillsborough's Terrence "T-Rex" Mitchell leads the Terriers at the 3A regional. Mitchell won the 100, 300 hurdles, long jump and triple jump in the district meet last week. Terriers teammate Lindsey Lamar won the 200, finished second in the 100 and third in the 400.

Brandon's Desmond McGill will challenge Mitchell in the 300 hurdles, and McGill and Leto's Jeremy Deering will have a showdown in the 110 hurdles.

The best race, however, may be the boys 4x400 where Wharton, Armwood and Charlotte will run below 3:22.

The girls 4x400 also should be competitive between Hillsborough and Wharton, led by Amani Bryant. Bryant is a tiny dynamo who coolly runs with shades and won't be challenged in the 100 or 300 hurdles.

Tampa Bay Tech's LaShae "Legs" White will put her graceful stride against Hillsborough's Brittney Barton in the 400. Also look for Blake's Marissa McEleveen to make a strong showing in the long and triple jumps.

Overall, both meets should feature kids pushing their bodies to the limit. The track athlete can't take a play off, can't ride on a teammate's coattails, can't hide.

It's real, raw and riveting. Give it a chance. That's all I'm saying.

You can reach Ernest Hooper at ehooper@sptimes.com.

fast facts

Region track

and field

Admission: $6

Class 4A, Region 2

Host: Gaither

When: 1 p.m. today

Local schools: Alonso, Sickles, Bloomingdale, Chamberlain, Durant, East Bay, Gaither, Plant City, Riverview

Class 3A, Region 3

Host: Punta Gorda Charlotte

When: 4:30 p.m. today

Local schools: Blake, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Leto, Plant, Armwood, Brandon, Freedom, King, Middleton, Newsome, Tampa Bay Tech, Wharton

Hooper: Just watch this test of track and field skills 04/29/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 11:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays vs. Orioles, 1:10 p.m. Sunday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Today: vs. Orioles

    1:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 760-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Pitcher Jake Odorizzi #23 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait at Charlotte Sports Park during photo day on February 26, 2014 in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
  2. ABC Racing kennel advances three into semifinals

    Parimutuels

    ST. PETERSBURG — The maiden voyage by Don Burk into the $30,000 St. Petersburg Derby series — his first as the ABC Racing kennel owner — went as easy as ABC.

  3. Bullpen melts down as Rays lose to Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Jacob Faria allowed his first two big-league home runs and was touched for a career-high three runs Saturday by the Orioles. Other than that, the rookie making his fourth major-league start did okay against the Baltimore bats.

    The bullpen, not so much.

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Jumbo Diaz wipes his face as he walks off the mound after the Baltimore Orioles scored four runs during the eighth inning of a baseball game Saturday, June 24, 2017, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) SPD118
  4. Lightning shifts search for defense to free agency

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — As much as he tried, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman left the weekend's draft without acquiring another top-four defenseman.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101
  5. Lightning journal: Russian forwards top Day 2 draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — After taking a big, right-shot defenseman in the first round, the Lightning's second day of the draft was headlined by a few skilled Russian forwards.

    Canadiens rookie defenceman Mikhail Sergachev with Brian and Michelle Reid, the billet family he lived with while playing for the OHL's Windsor Spitfires last season. COURTESY OF BRIAN AND MICHELLE REID