Sunday, April 22, 2018
Sports

Pinellas, state track: Griffins carry Lakewood boys to fifth

JACKSONVILLE — Lakewood's Shaquem Griffin left the runway much like he has done in every other triple jump performance this season: with an aura of invincibility.

Griffin, who entered Saturday's Class 2A state track meet with the top mark in his signature event, left the rest of his competitors behind after clearing 48 feet, 4½ inches in his second jump in the finals.

It was more than enough for Griffin to win his first state title.

"I finished fifth last year, and I told myself afterward that I was coming here this time to take gold," Griffin said.

Griffin's toughest competition this season came from his twin brother, Shaquill. The two were the only participants in the event who cleared more than 47 feet in last week's region meet.

"I have competition from my brother in everything, from the classroom to sports," Shaquem said. "The night before we were talking in our hotel room and he said he was coming after me and going to win the triple jump. I told him he can try, but I didn't see that happening."

Shaquem started off by going 47-6 in the preliminaries, a mark good enough that he was able to scratch the rest of his jumps and wait for the finals.

Then, Shaquem zeroed in on his goal of breaking his personal and school record of 48-1, which he set last week.

He conquered that, too. His brother finished fourth in 46-11¼.

"It feels great," Shaquem said. "I accomplished everything I wanted."

The Griffins weren't finished. In the 4x400 relay, they teamed with Raymon Cleveland and Tim Holmes to win in 3 minutes, 20.60 seconds, one-hundredth of a second ahead of Pahokee.

At the start of the race, American Heritage held a commanding lead but fell behind after a dropped baton on the third exchange. That gave others hope, including the Spartans. Shaquill and Shaquem helped close the gap. Holmes, running the anchor leg, finished it off by leaning ahead of Pahokee's Jean Deceus just in time for the win.

Holmes also took sixth in the 300 hurdles (39.46) and teamed with Tahrell Jones, Shai Brown and Devontae Persha on the 4x800 relay that finished fourth in 8:01.83.

Persha was sixth in the 800 (1:57.41) and Javaris Little was seventh in the 100 (11.07).

They helped the Spartans finish fifth overall among the boys with 28 points. Plantation's American Heritage won with 45 points.

On the girls side, Lakewood's Sharell Keys was eighth in the 100 (12.55) and teamed with Erika Allen, Kajira Davis and Zayven Reese to take fifth in the 4x100 relay (48.33).

And the Spartans' Ashlee Funderburk was eighth in the 300 hurdles (46.08).

But the girls meet belonged to Miami Jackson's Robin Reynolds, who broke the state record in the long jump with a leap of 20-6¼, which also is the best outdoor mark in the nation this season. Reynolds also won the 100 (11.88) and 400 (52.59) to finish her career with 14 state titles in individual events, breaking the record of 13 set by North Palm Benjamin's Julian Reynolds (no relation) from 1990-95.

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