Tampa Bay has turned out its share of notable feats by high school athletes over the years. Sometimes those performances register at the national level, like Brylee Bartram’s recent run at the basketball record books, and sometimes they’re all about local and state dominance. We polled former and current staffers for the prep performances they never forgot. This is not a definitive list, but a sampling of area talent through the years.
Basketball: In 2015, during a 66-50 district championship win against Wiregrass Ranch, Freedom’s Taylor Emery became Hillsborough County’s all-time girls leading scorer, breaking a mark that had stood for almost two decades. Emery finished her high school career with 2,689 points and led the state in points per game (36.4) during her senior campaign.
Running: Plant’s Caroline Annis was the first female in Florida to win four individual cross country titles, from 1994-97. For good measure, Annis won five individual track titles (3,200 three times; 1,600 twice). Bailey Hertenstein (Riverview/Newsome) almost matched Annis’ long-distance prowess with three state crowns, but it’s one memorable state track meet we’ll mention here. In 2016, she tripped and fell with a little more than a lap to go in the 1,600. She was in eighth place at the time — and came back to win in 5:05.14.
Softball: Dani Hofer (Palm Harbor University) was the Gatorade National Player of the Year and held the national record at the time for complete-game shutouts in a season with 21 as a senior in 2005. She threw 13 perfect games in her career, fourth nationally at the time, and as a senior went 25-0 with 21 shutouts, including 15 no-hitters. She had 404 strikeouts and a 0.08 ERA, and finished with 1,163 in her high school career.
Swimming: The list of impressive area swimmers is a long one. But we’re going with Plant’s Morgan Tankersley’s outstanding day at state in 2016, when she set three records. She finished the 200 free in 1:44.31, breaking a six-year-old record by 1.06 seconds. She finished the 500 free in 4:37.60, 31 seconds ahead of the record set in 1999. She set the record in the prelims of the 100 free by swimming the lead leg of the 400 free relay in 48.73 seconds, breaking the 14-year-old mark by 0.04 seconds.
Track and field: No one locally has come close to matching Char Foster’s (Clearwater Central Catholic/Ridgewood) prowess at state. She tallied 10 individual state track titles (1995-97) — second-most in the state at the time — including four in the same year She won the long jump, triple jump, 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles as a sophomore in 1996.
Baseball: Mitchell’s Patrick Schuster was the king of no-nos in 2009, throwing four consecutive. The year before, he struck out 20 batters in one game, tying a 51-year-old Pasco County record. Hillsborough County has had its share of notable pitchers through the years, but few topped Tyler Danish’s senior year. The Durant ace went 15-1 with a 0.00 ERA and 156 strikeouts over 94 innings — all numbers that ranked him among the nation’s top five pitchers. He was just as good at the plate, hitting .411 with 27 RBIs and tying for the county lead with nine homers in his final season.
Basketball: We’re going back to the 1980s for this one. Brandon’s Toney Mack scored 71 points — 71! — against Winter Haven as a senior in 1985. And this was before the 3-point shot was added in high school. He averaged 41.3 points per game that season and his 1,271 points set a state single-season record.
Football: We could fill a book in this category, but we’ll single out these three. Tampa Catholic’s Darrell Jackson caught 191 career passes for 4,594 yards and 50 touchdowns in his prep career (1993-96). At the time, it ranked first all-time nationally in career receiving yards and set a national record for all-time receiving yards per catch (24.05 avg.). Pasco’s Janarion Grant scored five touchdowns four different ways against Fivay in 2012. He finished with 77 career touchdowns, which we think was the most in North Suncoast history at the time. Nature Coast is known for churning out star running backs, but DeShawn Smith tops them all. As a senior in 2015, Smith led the nation in rushing yards with 3,715 and overall touchdowns with 67. His 60 rushing touchdowns set the state record and his overall touchdown total ranked third all-time nationally for a season.
Track and field: Sometimes one athlete is enough to carry a team to glory. In 1987, King’s Charles Johnson won four events at state — the 120-yard high hurdles, 330-yard intermediate hurdles, long jump and triple jump, scoring enough points to single-handedly win the team title for the Lions. Darren Hambrick, perhaps better known for football, almost matched him in 1993. The Pasco athlete would have finished fourth at state by himself, when he won the high jump, was second in the triple jump, finished third in the long jump and discus, and fifth in the shot put. He was the first athlete in state history to compete in five field events.
Wrestling: All hail Brandon. The Eagles boast a whopping four wrestlers who won five state titles, and it’s impossible to pick one athlete to represent the program’s dominance through the years. Rossi Bruno and Clark Glass were the first in the state to ever reach five individual championships, back in 2012. Bruno was unbeaten that year at 61-0, while Glass merely finished his prep career with 323 Florida High School Athletic Association-sanctioned victories, one short of the national record at the time. Kevin Norstrem matched the state mark the next year, going 290-4 for his career, while little brother Kyle got Title No. 5 in 2016. He also had three unbeaten high school seasons.