ST. PETERSBURG — It's not too often a track and field coaching staff will direct runners to run as slowly as they can yet still win the race, but that's what Northside Christian coaches Jeff Goodwin and Barry Greenleaf did Thursday at the Bay Conference Championships.
The meet was rescheduled from last month, and it occurred a day before the Distance Carnival at the University of Tampa and TFA Invitational at Orlando's First Academy — two key events in which Mustangs runners will compete.
Despite the cautious overtones, the meet still turned into a Northside Christian invitational of sorts, as the Mustangs cruised to easy victories. The boys tallied 207 points for first place over Keswick Christian's 100 points and Shorecrest's 100 points, while the girls compiled 210, plenty to beat Keswick Christian (78.33) and Shorecrest (57.33).
The Mustangs set three school records, in the boys 4x400 relay (Lucio Ojeda, Matt Montanari, Glen Dorsey II, Jimmy Van Deilen), the boys 4x100 (Ojeda, Van Deilen, Jeffrey Golden, Evan Howard) and the girls pole vault, in which Jess Artille cleared 10 feet, 1 inch. The Mustangs have combined to set nine school records this season.
Mario Ojeda, the No. 3-ranked runner in the 800 in the Florida Runners Class A poll, took first in the event with teammates Joe Chapman and Garet Marr finishing second and third, respectively. Ojeda teamed with Chapman, Marr and Montanari (fourth in the state in the 800) to capture the 4x800. Today the team takes on Trinity Prep, the state's top-ranked team.
Katelyn Greenleaf, ranked fourth in the state and 58th in the nation in the 1600, paced herself to a 5:42.60 time for a first-place finish in the event in preparation for today.
"I want to see how well I do in the event and try to improve on it so I know where I stand," said Greenleaf, who finished fourth in the 3200 at the state finals last year.