1. Sports

District track: Nature Coast sweeps 2A-7

Published Apr. 12, 2014

BROOKSVILLE — For the third consecutive season, Nature Coast came into the district meet with brooms in hand. And the girls and boys swept Class 2A, District 7 on Friday at Central.

Ridgewood, which finished with 112 points, took control of the boys meet in the field events. But the Sharks rallied late to finish with 128.5.

"It all boils down to the hard work these kids put in every day at practice," Nature Coast coach Eric Milholland said. "We've always been strong in the distance events, but the way the sprinters have improved really points to their dedication."

Brian Swanson took the first of four individual titles for Ridgewood, the pole vault at 13 feet. Chris Branfield followed with a win in the discus (140). Cameron Coleman won another field event for the Rams with a 6-foot leap in the high jump. And Thomas Kernan won the shot put at 49-1/2.

Hudson got a surprise first in the 100 meters. Sophomore Dean Simon (11.17 seconds) accelerated ahead of Pasco's Dominick Graham (11.27) and Nature Coast's DeShawn Smith (11.33) .

Gulf snagged a title in the 1,600 with Wesley Best (4:38).

Mailyke Williams got one of two Wesley Chapel wins in the 110 hurdles, (16.30). Joseph Edwards (22.99) did the same for the Wildcats in the 200.

The only wins for Nature Coast came in the relays. The Sharks were up by only a half-point over Ridgewood going into the final event, the 4x400, but James Harkless, Nick Conway, DeShawn Smith and Jordan Burkes won to seal the title. The Sharks also won the 4x100.

"We've come a long way since the beginning of the season," Burkes said after running the anchor leg of the 4x400. "Coming around the last turn, I used all my technique to get ahead for the win."

The Nature Coast girls didn't have as much drama. The Sharks (156.5 points) were in position to win midway through thanks to their depth.

"Every year, we look at the team and realize that there is a long way to go," Nature Coast coach Ryan Wilson said. "But you have to credit the girls and how much work they've put in to get here."

Pasco got a big meet, as it has all season, from sophomore Alfreda Steele. Steele won the long jump by more 2 feet with a leap of 18-4. In the 100, she repeated her victory as a freshman, finishing in 12.22. Steele (25.05) then won the 200.

Eunique Byrd won the shot put for the Pirates at 38-2, improving on her runnerup finish last season as a junior. Lezareia Gilbert took home the high jump title at 5-2.

Gulf won a title when Jasmine Jackson launched the discus 107-7. The effort was almost 7 feet more than 2012 champ Lauren Plaugher of Nature Coast (100-10).

The Sharks won the 4x400 and 4x800 and captured their lone individual win in the 400 by Eboni Johnson (1:02).