LAND O'LAKES — There was no looking back for Nature Coast's Ja'Juan Story when he took the baton for the final leg of the 4x400 relay Friday night.
His teammates jumped in excitement as he broke away from the field and approached the finish line. As Story bent down to take a quick breather, his fellow sprinters talked to him of the potential damage the relay team could cause this season.
Sharks coach Ryan Wilson took notice as well and was impressed by his distance runners, as his Nature Coast boys cruised through the field and topped second-place Land O'Lakes 111-49 in the inaugural Gator Distance Carnival at Gator Stadium.
"I was extremely impressed by what I saw today," Wilson said. "We were just looking to improve going into the spring break, since kids are going to have the week off and everything.
"Tonight showed me a lot, and I think I'll be able to sleep a little bit better."
Nature Coast won the 4x400 in 3:35 and Crystal River finished right behind with a time of 3:45. Sharks distance runner Kevin Ciccone had a solid outing, winning the 800 (2:07.31) for freshmen and sophomores placing second in the freshman/sophomore 1600 (4:50.59).
The Gulf girls took home the team title with 63 points, edging Nature Coast by eight points. The Buccaneers had several first-place finishers, including Judith Young in the 800 (2:44) and Renee Patnode in the freshman/sophomore 1600 (5:58).
"It was a good job on a cold night," Gulf coach Chad Stoneking said. "We did better than expected and these girls work hard every day. We didn't know what it was going to be like since this was the first time they've run this meet, but everything went very well."