TAMPA — The 42nd annual Nash Higgins Relays tested the depth of the 27 Hillsborough County teams on a windy Saturday at Leto High.
The Robinson boys placed in the top three in seven of the 12 events, including first-place finishes in the distance medley and the 4x100 meter throwers relay, to edge Hillsborough 55 to 52.5.
The girls competition was nearly as close as Steinbrenner (69) kept just ahead of Wharton (62). The Warriors took first in the shuttle hurdle and the triple jump relay.
The vaunted Hillsborough boys relay teams, featuring senior Anthony Brown and junior Jeremiah Green, were beaten in both the highly anticipated 4x100 and the 4x400 races.
The Jefferson 4x400 team of Jonathan Moore, David White, Jawuan Coffee and Joshua Wyche finished in 3 minutes, 28.89 seconds to best the second-lace Terriers (3:29.53).
"I wanted to come out and put it all on the line for my team today," said Coffee, the senior who ran a blistering third leg.
In a shocker, East Bay's 4x100 team of David Wykes, Saleem Lintz, Brandon Byrd and Noah Williams finished in 43.73 seconds. Robinson (44.12) and Riverview (44.25) also finished ahead of Hillsborough (44.34).
"We wanted to come out and put East Bay on the map," said Williams, the junior anchor-leg runner.
Still, overall the Terriers had a rewarding day, with the second-place boys and the girls taking fourth. The Terriers girls 4x400 team of Ciarra Hawkins, Jorian Ordway, Marilyn Hawkins and Tijah Ray finished in 4:03.97 to best runnerup Wharton (4:07.03) and the rest of the field by nearly five seconds.
"If I get the baton first, I'm confident we can beat anybody," said senior and leadoff runner Ciarra Hawkins.
Plant turned in strong performances, placing third overall in the girls competition and fourth in the boys. The Panthers won both boys and girls 4x800 races, no doubt a product of their cross-county pedigree. Juniors Caroline Gibson, a 2011 cross country state finalist, and Julia Rodriguez, a 2011 region cross country champion, led Plant to a 10:06.60 finish, seven seconds better than Wharton.
Kyle Groh turned in a gutty finish to the anchor leg on the boys team, passing Wharton on the first of his two laps.