TAMPA — Newsome High boys track coach Kevin Sharpe looked at the standings before the final race of Tuesday’s Vernon Korhn Hillsborough County Track Championships and started pacing.
Newsome came into the final event, the 4x400 relay, with 56.7 points, followed by Hillsborough and Jefferson at 55 apiece, and Armwood at 53. If the Wolves beat the aforementioned, victory was in the bag. If Newsome finished two or three places behind any of them, victory could slip away.
As the runners pushed around the track, Sharpe glared at his watch and grimaced and finally felt a little better when his anchor, Todd Jackson, got the baton in decent position.
Jackson, a state championship medalist last year and the county’s leading 400-meter runner, didn’t disappoint. He rushed around in under 50 seconds, assuring Newsome of a fourth-place finish, two places ahead of Armwood, three ahead Hillsborough and six in front of Jefferson.
Final boys’ team scores: 1. Newsome 63.7, 2. Hillsborough 57, 3. Armwood 56, 4. Jefferson 55, 5. Bloomingdale 52.
“I’ll admit I was a little nervous because you never quite know what might happen in (the 4x400 relay),” Sharpe said. “But I have confidence in my guys. I knew they’d give it everything, and they did.”
Jackson, who won Tuesday’s open 400 in 49.01 seconds, said he was going to run the race as if, “it was the last race I ever ran. I was going to do whatever it took to be there for my team.”
The girls’ team competition was far less dramatic, but no less impressive, as Steinbrenner cruised in with a victory at 91.5 points, 13.5 ahead of runner-up Wharton. Freedom was third with 61, followed by Alonso at 51 and Hillsborough at 49.
The Warriors once again did it with a complete team effort that featured scoring in almost every event, including a victory in the 4X800 relay to start the day. Tiyera Joseph, Samyah Maddox, Alex Sikoryak and Emily Petrus combined to finish in a school-record 9:36.24, almost three seconds ahead of runner-up Wharton.
Warrior Taylor Hotchkiss also proved pivotal, scoring in four events: the long jump (third), the 100 hurdles (third), the 300 hurdles (fifth) and the triple jump (sixth).
One of the more impressive team efforts in any event went to Newsome’s pole vaulters, who finished first (David Kornitzer, 13 feet, 7 inches), tied for second (Connor Sharpe, 12-0) and fifth (Jake Hughes, 11-6).
Individuals who won two events included: Spoto’s Janae Caldwell (200 meters in 24.87, 400 meters in 56.06); Wharton’s Bryanna Rivers (800 meters in 2:22.36, 1,600 meters in 5:22.69); Alonso’s Lynette Robertson (jump jump in 17-7.5, triple jump in 36-8); and East Bay’s James Hambrick (long jump in 22-4, 200 meters in 21.85).