Class A track and field continues to be dominated by Pinellas County schools Indian Rocks and Calvary Christian, but that doesn't mean Hillsborough County's contingent will vanish at regionals on Thursday in Orlando.
Here's a team-by-team look.
Tampa Prep: Sophomore Claire Snyder dominated the distance events at the recent Class A, District 8 meet, taking first in the 800 meters, 1,600 and 3,200. She won by comfortable margins in all three and while her 3,200 time was above her standards, her season-best of 11:25.12 would have earned her a place on the medal stand at last year's Class A state championships. One of her top rivals, junior Kelly Fahey of Trinity Prep, ran a 12:09.93 to take the 1A District 6 title in the 3,200 last Thursday.
Also dominant in distance is junior Mihir Dubey. Dubey won the 1,600 at 4:57.48 for the boys along with a Tampa Prep trifecta: senior Miller Judge and junior Oscar Skjaerpe took second and third. The boys will have to run the races of their lives if they want to keep up with Trinity Prep's milers, who all clocked times in the 4:30 range at districts.
Also keep your eye on junior Carly Reiner. a three-event state finalist a year ago. She seems to be peaking with personal bests in the long jump (17 feet, 31/4 inches) and triple jump (36-103/4). She jumped 16-51/4 in last year's state final, so she's obviously improving.
"I feel really good, I started the season shaky, had a lot of fouls but I've really worked to correct my steps and hit the board," Reiner said.
Still, she'll need to get close to 18 feet to guarantee a spot on the medal stand. Lake Mary's junior Abby Hanny jumped 18 feet to claim her District 6 title.
Reiner also qualified in the 100 and as the anchor leg on the girls 4x100m relay that took second place.
Seffner Christian: The Crusaders send eight athletes in 10 different events to regionals after a strong performance in the district meet.
Brandon Ardley may be Seffner Christian's best bet to move on to state after qualifying in 2011. He won the long jump (21-5) and the 100 (11.7). A modest improvement in those numbers should be enough to make the cut.
Cambridge: The Lancers are sending three athletes to regionals. Freshman Josh Wolcott is going in the triple and long jump, sophomore Luke Steinel is going in the high jump and 400m. However, sophomore Madison Cox may represent the Lancers' best shot of having a representative at state. If not for Cavalry's Logan Theil edging her out in the 200 and 400, she would be wearing two district crowns. Still, her times of 27.36 seconds and 59.58 seconds are right up there in the top times of other district qualifiers.
Carrollwood Day: Three Patriots qualified for regionals: senior Bailey Drury, freshmen Elias Earley and Lauren Meaney. Drury came in third in the 400 at 1:00.8 minutes and fourth in the 200m at 27.89 seconds, but those are both competitive times for athletes aspiring for state. If Earley can improve on his 53.51-second time in the 400, he has a shot at qualifying.
Tampa Bay Christian: The Rams are sending four athletes. Senior Danielle Grantham and freshman Jamari Johnson were double qualifiers.
The Class A, Region 2 meet is at First Academy in Orlando on Thursday.
Andy Warrener can be reached at [email protected]