TAMPA — As if the Wharton girls track team needed any more good news, junior Amani Bryant is coming into her own at just the right time.
The Wildcat boys and girls teams each won Thursday's district meet at King. The Wharton boys earned a commanding win over second-place Armwood 157-121, and the girls dominated the field, defeating second-place Brandon 185.5-109.
Bryant won four events, including running the lead leg of Wharton's first-place 4x400 relay team, setting a personal best split time of 56 seconds in just her second time running the event. Bryant also won the long jump (17 feet, 6 ½ inches), 300-meter hurdles (43.74 seconds) and 100-meter hurdles (15.01 seconds). She set a personal record in both hurdles.
"Right now, Amani is turning from a sprinter into a hurdler," Wharton coach Wes Newton said. "She could win the 100 and 200 (dash), but looking ahead, running the hurdles puts her ahead of the pack.
"She's found her niche."
Part of her success this season comes from investing in track. She ran varsity cross country for her first time —she admittedly hated distance running — and quit basketball, her first love, to concentrate on running full time.
"To be the best, sometimes you have to give up certain things," Bryant said.
The Wharton girls received contributions throughout, placing in the top four 16 times. For Newton it was the second- and third-place finishers who were pleasant surprises.
Among those, freshman Erin Bailey placed second in the 3,200 and third in the 1,600, earning a region berth in both events.
On the boys end, Keyon Jones won two events — the long jump and 400 meters — before pulling a muscle in his leg in the 200 meters. The Wharton boys still won the 4x400 meters without Jones, their best runner.