TAMPA — Alonso's sprinters pulled away from Steinbrenner during the final event to win the girls team title Saturday at the 44th annual Nash Higgins Relays at Leto High.
Heading into the 4x400 meters, Alonso and Steinbrenner were tied at 57 points. Though Wharton's relay sprinters led the race the whole way (4 minutes, 1.62 seconds), all eyes watched where the Ravens and Warriors would finish. Alonso seized an edge after the first handoff, stretch its lead on the third leg and secured the meet victory with 65 points by finishing second. Steinbrenner slipped to seventh in the race and settled for meet runnerup with 59 points. Wharton was third (36) in the meet.
"It says something about them to be aware of the pressure around them, manage it and to win it," Ravens coach Roger Mills said. "A lot of teams would get nervous, I know I was nervous."
The Steinbrenner boys repeated as team champions, scoring in nearly every event to total 53 points and hold off a late push from Jefferson (41).
"It's a great day; the kids battled, competed, I'm proud of them," said coach Michael Bosco, whose Warriors won the high jump relay and the shuttle hurdle, and only failed to score in the pole vault.
The highlight event was the girls 4x800. Wharton again flexed its relay prowess, winning in 9:51.13 to top the meet mark of 9:59.56. It was the Wildcats best time of the season, nearly 14 seconds faster than last week's time at their own Wharton Invitational. Wildcats coach Anthony Triana believes the school record of 9:48 could fall this season.
Alonso took second in the 4x800, breaking its school mark by finishing in 10:01.39. The Ravens chopped more than 37 seconds off their time from last week. The top five girls 4x800 teams all finished under 10:03.
"I've never seen anything like it at Nash Higgins this early in the season, and I've been doing it since 2008," said Freedom coach Dwight Smith, whose girls finished fourth in 10:02.90.
Plant City pole vaulter Jackson Hardee reset his personal record five times, moving it up to 13 feet, 6 inches.