JACKSONVILLE — The road to the Class 1A state high jump has been a long, winding and often frustrating one for Bishop McLaughlin senior Desiree’ Nathe.
But Friday, in a steady downpour at the University of North Florida — after four years of trying — it was finally satisfying, because Nathe won with a leap of 5 feet, 2 inches.
“I’m having a bunch of feelings at once right now because everything did finally come together,” Nathe said. “I do know I’m very happy.”
The frustration started as a freshman, when Nathe overturned a speeding go cart and dislocated her shoulder just before the state meet. The frustration continued as a sophomore when she fell short in the high jump while trying to compete in several other events.
Then, last year as a junior, the frustration mounted when Nathe was disqualified by a competitor’s notification that during regional she wore an ankle bracelet (grounds for disqualification).
“I made extra sure today that I wore no ankle bracelets or anything that might disqualify me,” Nathe said. “I was careful.”
Nathe added that she had hoped to go a lot higher, but the rain and the wind made it difficult.
“You had to make sure your feet were firmly planted,” she said. “Some girls were slipping.”
No other boys or girls competitor from Pasco or Hillsborough counties won a state title.
Tampa Prep senior Oscar Skjaerpe came the closest when he ran the race of his life in the 800 meters, picking off four runners in the final 150 yards and missing a victory by .04 seconds. Skjaerpe leaned across the finish line in second place in 1 minute, 57 seconds.
Seffner Christian junior Jamari Johnson also grabbed a runner-up spot in the discus with a throw of 153-9, and Crusaders teammate Robbie Shell took third in the long jump with a leap of 21-5.75.
Cambridge Christian’s Josh Walcott also grabbed a bronze in the triple jump at 43-3.25.
One of the most outstanding efforts went to a Pinellas County athlete: Admiral Farragut’s Brittany McGee, who won the 100 hurdles (14.83), the 300 hurdles (46.44) and took third in the long jump (18-3.25).