Prep track: Freedom girls make history with 4A-6 title
For the first time in Freedom High's history, its girls track team pulled through with a district title, taking Wednesday's Class 4A-District 6 team championship — thanks in large part to one athlete, Sandra Akachukwu.
Everything Akachukwu entered, she excelled at: Winning the 200 meters in 25.35 seconds, the 100 meters in 12.27 seconds, the long jump in 19 feet, 3 inches and placing second in the high jump with a leap of 5-8.
The best news is that Akachukwu, who scored in all four aforementioned events at last year's state meet, feels like she can run even faster and jump farther than she did on Wednesday.
“I'd say I'm right on schedule with regionals coming up,” said Akachukwu, who admitted to saving a little energy in Wednesday's 100 and 200 by shutting it down a bit. “I'm really working on technique and form right now.”
Akachukwu's efforts, coupled with many more from several teammates — including Faith Woodard, who won the high jump (5-10) and the 400 meters (58.40) — helped the Patriots rack up 166.5 points, 22.5 ahead of second-place Plant. Wharton finished third with 123, followed by Alonso at 119.
On the boys side, Plant won with 145.5 points, comfortably in front of second-place TBT (109), Alonso (104) and Freedom (101).
On the individual front, TBT sprinter Deontae Williams shined with victories in the 100 (11.08) and 200 meters (22.40) and a dramatic come-from-behind sprint in the Titans' victorious 4x100 relay (43.18).
Alonso's William Taylor-Haynes, who is a state-title contender in the 110 hurdles, also shined with a 14.65-second victory.
Both Williams and Taylor-Haynes basically cruised through their events on Wednesday as they head into more stiff competition at next week's regionals. - Scott Purks
3A-8: Steinbrenner pulls off sweep TAMPA - The Steinbrenner High boys track and field team loaded up in the distance events at Gaither, including taking all four region-qualifying places in the 1,600, on the way to its second straight Class 3A-District 8 title.
Matt Magee won the 800 (1:57.27) and 1,600 (4:38.12), and teammate Tyler Bess-Lima took the 3,200 (9:55). Steinbrenner totaled 71 of its 139.5 points between those three events.
Jefferson was second with 128.5 points, just ahead of Hillsborough, which finished third with 128.
Hillsborough's Jeremiah Green, the top-ranked triple jumper in the nation, collected four district titles, winning the long jump, triple jump, 100 and 200. In the triple, Green hit 48-1 on his first jump before passing on his next five attempts.
Steinbrenner won the girls team title, as well, collecting 161 points, 17 ahead of runner-up Hillsborough. Steinbrenner's lone winner was Jazmin Sobotker, who took the pole vault, clearing 9 feet.
Chamberlain's Andrea Aaron won the discus (124-3) and shot put (43-5.5). Her mark in the shot is the best in the county this year.
Jorian Ordway of Hillsborough also collected two district titles. After winning the 400 in 57.38, Ordway narrowly edged King's Carrol Hardy in the 200 — 24.83 to 24.86. - Lars Steier
3A-9: Covington leads Armwood boys SEFFNER - Armwood's Aaron Covington had three wins at the Class 3A-9 meet, but he was still disappointed.
Despite wins in the 200, the high jump and the 4x100 relay, Covington said he wasn't satisfied with his fourth-place finish in the 100.
“Yes, I had three but I should have had four (wins),'' Covington said. “At regionals, I need to learn how to explode out of the blocks.''
Covington led an Armwood team that dominated the field. Armwood had 168.75 points to defeat Strawberry Crest and Lakewood Ranch.
Lakewood Ranch held off Strawberry Crest to take the girls title. East Bay finished third.
Armwood didn't fare well in the field events, so it was up to the sprinters and distance runners to bridge the gap.
“We had some things happen early that weren't so good,'' said Armwood coach Chris Biernaki. “It took a lot to get back into it, but it won't be so easy next week. That's when we get our big challenge.'' - Jeff Berinicke
4A-7: Newsome boys take second RIVERVIEW - Led by the distance running of Lars Benner, the Newsome boys finished second at the district meet at Spoto. Newsome had 139.50 points, just behind first-place North Port (144).
Benner won the 1,600 meters in 4:32.19 and the 3,200 in10:06.35. Also winning two events for the Wolves was Todd Jackson. The junior won the 400 in 49.92 and then teamed with Kyle Smith, Shane Dymond and Brendan Clough to take the 4x400 relay in 3:28.85. Ahren Bryan was Newsome's other first-place winner, winning the high jump (6-foot-2).
Other local winners on the boys side included Bloomingdale's Gerard Trott in the long jump (21-10) and Kevin Heron in the 800 (1:59.88). Heron also teamed with fellow juniors Matthew LeBlanc and John Bryant and senior Ryan Chadderton to win the 4x800 (8:13.53).
In the girls meet, Newsome finished third with 110 points. Sarasota Riverview took first (218) and North Port was second (117.50). Brianna Jackson (3,200, 12:19.78) and the 4x100 relay team (50.88) of Alina Stewart, Brianna Robertson, Aexandria Thompson and Tyra Johnson had first-place finishes for the Wolves.
Riverview's Maia Carter won a pair of hurdles events. She took the 100 in 15.56 and the 300 in 49.58. Carter's teammate, Morgan Speicher, won the 400 in 1:02.52.
Bloomingdale's Julie Roggeman claimed the 800 in 2:24.08 and teamed with Lisa Kauffman, Abigail Wingfield and Kali Clemmer to win the 4x800 in 9:59.87. Annie Barrett of Bloomingdale won the 1,600 in 5:30.00.