TAMPA — On an unseasonably chilly west Tampa evening, Durant senior Grace VanDeGrift added another astounding chapter to a career that has alternated between snakebitten and sensational in the past 12 months.
Unable to suppress the nausea caused by what she called a "stomach bug," VanDeGrift vomited roughly an hour before the girls 1,600 meters Tuesday at the Vernon Korhn Hillsborough County Championships at Jefferson High.
The University of Florida signee then won the event by nearly five seconds. After a little breather, she then won the 3,200 by more than 35.
"I did expect her to run," Cougars coach Mike Gursky said, "just because that's the way she is."
Battling wind and wet surfaces caused by the day's earlier line of storms, VanDeGrift was among four athletes to win two individual events.
By contrast, Wharton's girls won only one event, yet captured their fifth consecutive Korhn title on new coach Anthony Triana's 25th birthday. The Wildcats had 75 points, four more than runnerup Hillsborough.
"Three-fourths of the way through the meet, I'm walking around sulking thinking we had lost," said veteran Wildcats distance coach Wes Newton, who opened the day by watching his favored 4x800-meter relay team place fourth.
"In a meet like this, it's about survival, get as many garbage points as you can."
Similarly, Hillsborough's boys prevailed despite an overall performance far from their sharpest. Relying on superior depth, such as three top-six finishers in the 100 meters, the Terriers (92 points) won the crown by 30 points.
Sophomore Jeremiah Green was the Terriers' top point scorer, winning the long jump, placing second in the triple jump, and earning sixth-place efforts in the 100 and 200.
VanDeGrift was as valiant as Green was versatile. Four days ago, she ran at the Florida Relays, notching a personal-best time (5:00) in the 1,600. Four weeks ago, she was battling mononucleosis, which threatened to derail her season.
"I wouldn't quite call myself 100 percent yet," said VanDeGrift, who was still recovering from a stress fracture in her hip this time in 2010.
"I know that I'm just (steadily) getting better. I thought about just running one race, because I was sick earlier today, but I decided I might as well. It's my last year."
Other two-event winners were Riverview's Ashley Favors (girls 100 and 300 hurdles), Alonso's Brandon Holloway (boys 100 and 200) and Hillsborough's Jorian Ordway (girls 200 and 400).