The gun fired, and every girl around Palm Harbor's Madison McNary lunged ahead. She was last out of the blocks in the 100-meter finals at the Class 4A state track meet Saturday.
"I just told myself, 'Good form, good form, you can still catch them,' " McNary said. "I was catching up, catching up, but when we hit the (finish line) I had no idea. It was so close."
And then McNary was ... waiting, waiting ... under a tent in the middle of Winter Park's Showalter Field. It wasn't until 5 minutes later, after examining a photo finish, that it was announced McNary was the champion in 12.10 seconds.
She jumped in the air and shouted: "Yes! Yes! Yes!"
Then she gathered her medal and began mentally preparing for the 200-meter final, which she won going away in 24.29 seconds by shooting out of the blocks and churning smoothly through the turn and down the stretch.
McNary was the only athlete from the Tampa Bay area to win a state title. Her two first-place finishes also made Palm Harbor the highest placing Tampa Bay area girls team, at ninth with 20 points. The next-highest team finisher was Gaither with seven points, tied for 20th.
On the boys' side, the Riverview 4x100-meter relay team had the highest event finish, taking second in 41.58 seconds, 0.03 seconds ahead of Gaither. Mandarin won with a surge in the final 20 meters, crossing in 41.29 seconds. Riverview's effort made it the Tampa Bay area's highest boys' team finisher, in 12th with 20 points.
Scott Purks can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3353.