Track: Green captures 3A triple jump title
Rain fell in torrential buckets at Friday's Class 3A state track meet and washed away much of the event's luster — including the hope of Hillsborough High's Jeremiah Green to set a state meet record in the triple jump.
“It was super frustrating,” said Green, who still won triple jump gold by almost four feet with a leap of 48 feet, 2 inches, but fell well short of the state meet record of 52 feet, 5.5 inches. “There was the rain and wind, but more than that there was the confusion and distractions with the (change of event times because of the foul weather).”
Normally, Green's events — the long jump, triple jump, 100- and 200-meter dashes — are spaced out enough so he can navigate the changeovers.
But Friday at the University of North Florida track — after the running events were scheduled two hours earlier to avoid even more severe weather later in the day — the 100 and 200 prelims directly conflicted with Green's long jumps and triple jumps.
If Green skipped any event he could be disqualified from the meet, so instead he sprinted from his jumping events to cruise through his 100 prelim and finish well back, and then stepped off the track early in the 200 — all before returning to the jumps.
He managed to finish second in the long jump at 23-4.5, but it still tasted a bit unsatisfying.
“My main goal was to come here and set the state triple jump record,” Green said. “So yes, I can't say that I'm totally happy.”
Green also said it was a bummer to have his state medals handed to him in a dingy runway under the stadium where water dripped between concrete cracks. At every other state track meet, the top eight athletes step on the podium, have their name announced, and get their state medal draped over their heads while family and friends cheer and snap pictures.
The only other individual state champion Friday from Hillsborough and Pasco counties, Jefferson's Jonathan Moore, voiced similar feelings after winning the 800 in 1 minute, 55.21 seconds.
“If we have to run in the rain and the wind then I don't see why they can't give us our medals on the podium in the rain and the wind,” Moore said. “I've looked forward to that moment of standing on the podium for years, and now I don't get to do it.”
But it could have been worse.
There were talks that if the weather got too bad and the finals couldn't be run, preliminary times might be used to determine state champions.
So the good news is that the meet, though flawed, was completed, and several Hillsborough and Pasco athletes who persevered — with or without the podium ceremony — still received medals.
King's Carrol Hardy shined brightly, taking second in the 100 (11.95 seconds) and fifth in the 200 (24.51 seconds). Hillsborough's Jorian Ordway also scored in multiple events, taking second in the 400 (55.97), seventh in the 200 (24.93) and helping the Terriers' 4x400 relay to an eighth-place finish (4:03.93).
Chamberlain's Andrea Aaron took third place in the shot put with a throw of 41-1.75, but failed to medal in the discus where competition was delayed until the driving rain and wind subsided.
Three other athletes from Hillsborough County finished fifth individually: Steinbrenner's Matt Magee in the 1,600 (4:26.70), Hillsborough's Robert Wilson in the 400 (50.43) and Gaither's Rachel Cazares in the 800 (2:19.50).
To get an idea of how severe Friday's weather was, consider this: Of the 16 entrants in the boys' high jump, only two — TWO — managed to clear a height. That's right, no other athlete managed to even clear the bar with the rain and wind messing up their attempts.
Today's 4A meet, by the way, will also start earlier than previously planned: The 4x800 and field events will begin at noon, running prelims at 2 p.m. and running finals at 4:30.
Weather permitting, of course.
Afternoon Update: Aquarium responds to Scientology; PTC faces extinction; Bucs introduce first pick; divers fish out pounds of Gasparilla beads