CLEARWATER — After finishing last in districts in 2011, the East Lake girls made a quantum leap a year ago, taking second.
On Tuesday, East Lake made the turnaround complete, winning the Class 4A, District 5 title for the first time. The Eagles were dominant, scoring 174.5 points to beat Countryside by 58.
“These girls put together the foundation,” coach Britt Taylor said. “They’ve worked so hard to get us to where we are and put East Lake track on the map.”
Depth in the sprints and hurdles played a big role for the Eagles, who had four girls in the finals of the 100 meters and 110 hurdles. East Lake’s only individual champion was Erica Lersch (1,600 in 5:34.57).
Pinellas Park’s Deterrica Simpkins won the 100 (12.56) and 200 (25.45). Teammate Jasmine Laska won the shot put (33-4) and discus (120-8). Countryside’s Victoria Jackson was the only other girl to win titles in multiple events, finishing first in the long jump (33-5) and triple jump (15-6).
On the boys side, the Cougars, led by their distance runners, claimed the team title, outscoring St. Petersburg 151.5-128.
Paul “Megadeth” McKenna, pulled off the triple crown in distance events.
He teamed with Ryan Bennett, Billy Fitch and Andrew Llewellyn to win the 4x800 in 8:38.23. McKenna followed that up by taking the 1,600 in a personal-record 4:26.91, shaving six seconds off his previous best. He capped off the night by taking first in the 3,200 in 10:07.66.
About the only thing McKenna didn’t do was finish the 3,200 in his target time of 9:40, which he needs to get within the next two weeks to earn an athletic scholarship to Embry-Riddle University.
“I still feel like I’ll get to the time I wanted,” McKenna said. “I concentrated more on the 1,600 because that is probably the last time I’ll run that race and I wanted to get a PR. I can concentrate more on the 3,200 the next two weeks because I’ll see great competition.
That’s when you’ll see the real Megadeth.”
Llewellyn also won the 800 (2:00.78) and teammate Robert Davis the 400 (51.00). Davis teamed with Jordan Santa-Maria, Bennett and Fitch to take first in the 4x400 (3:32).
East Lake’s Artavis Scott won the long jump (21-10) and triple jump (43-6).
St. Petersburg’s Jeremy Kerr won the shot put (43-6 ¾) and discus (131-10). Teammate Cayman Ellis established one of the best marks in the state in the pole vault by clearing 15-7.