WINTER PARK — When Keari Brink missed on her first attempt to clear 11 feet in the pole vault, she wasn't too concerned. But after failing on her second go, the Ridgewood senior began to worry.
"I was really getting nervous," she said.
As she prepared for try No. 3, Brink began to focus. Then she got an adrenaline rush. "I was thinking about it really hard," Brink said. "And about everything people have been telling me to do."
Moments later, she cleared 11 feet, which gave her the Class 3A state title Friday. Three vaulters cleared 10-06, so Brink needed that final effort to win.
"When the official shouted out that I got first, I was so excited," Brink said. "I've been working really hard for this the last four years."
Brink's winning vault was all the more impressive when you consider this: It was a personal best by 5 inches and came in her first state finals appearance. "It's kind of sad it's my last meet in high school," Brink said. "But I'm so excited that I won."
Brink was the North Suncoast's only state champion. Here are some of the area's other highlights:
• Central freshman Tikiera Relaford was fourth in the high jump with a leap of 5-04.
• Wesley Chapel junior Kamran Joyer took seventh in the shot put (50-05). "I had a pretty good day," he said.
• Land O'Lakes' Felix Soto was eighth in the 3,200 (9:51.24) to earn a medal and ninth in the 1,600 (4:30.17). He wasn't particularly satisfied with either result. "I'm not happy at all," Soto said.
In the 1,600, he was doomed by a bad start, yet was only two seconds behind his personal best. After a relatively short break, he was back on the track for the 3,200. "I'm a junior, so I've got another year," Soto said.
Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas won the boys team title. Orlando Oak Ridge was the girls champion.