Wesley Chapel – This was the second year the Sunshine Athletic Conference split the annual SAC Conference championships into eastern and western divisions. The Bulls took advantage at their home track with the girls topping Sunlake 143-134, and the boys outscoring second place Wesley Chapel 168-80 to capture the 2017 SAC East Conference team sweep.
Wiregrass has been on split session, keeping freshmen in school later and overlapping with track practices. Coaches and administrators at Wiregrass Ranch were able to get many of their freshmen track athletes into the early session to make them available for practice with the varsity team.
Wiregrass boys coach Marvin Gray said “This year, we put a lot of emphasis on our freshmen to participate”. The girls coach Ryan McGee said “Land O’Lakes outscored us last year because of their numbers, This year, we wanted to build a big team and the way the kids came out victorious today speaks volumes about them. It was a whole team effort.”
The Bulls boys led 70-34 over Land O’Lakes through the field events and the girls trailed Sunlake 73-50. A huge showing in the 800 meters virtually locked up the girls’ title for Wiregrass. Kerry Reilly won it in 2:30.95, but teammates Brenna Moran, Katie Moore and Abbie Dodge took second, third and fifth, respectively. Another Wiregrass phalanx took fourth, fifth and sixth in the 3,200 and that sealed it.
In the Discus, Dylan Teets of Wiregrass and Zackary Carpenter of Zephyrhills split the throws with Teets winning the event at a personal-best of 141-2. Carpenter won shot put with a toss of 14.88 meters (48.8 feet) for his all-time best. Sunlake sophomore Lauren Beacham, broke her best ever by more than two feet on her second throw at 10.10 meters (34.04 feet). Beacham has her sights set on the Sunlake school record of 36-6. “It was just a big kick, stay low and just do what I had to do,” Beacham said.
The distance events were dominated by a pair perennial favorites. Land O’Lakes’ Natalie Abernathy and Wesley Chapel’s Dominic Moreno. Abernathy pulled away from the field just before the bell lap to win the 1,600 in 5:23.96. Wiregrass’ Reilly took second (5:33.41). Abernathy then scorched the field in the 3,200 (11:48.89). That time was not particularly quick, especially with Abernathy’s 11:12.97 at the Berkeley Invitational ranks in the top 10 of 3,200 runners in Class 3A.
“I’m really focused on the 3,200 this year,” Abernathy said. “I think I can go low 11’s by the time Steinbrenner, regionals, and states comes around. I would really like to crack 11 minutes.”
In the closest race of the meet, Moreno overtook Land O’Lakes’ Alex Normandia on the home stretch of the 1,600. Normandia led into the third lap and fought off one charge from Moreno on the back stretch. In the final lap, Moreno closed a three-second lead and pounced when Normandia peeked over his shoulder on the home stretch to eke out the .07 second victory.
“I did not think he (Normandia) would hold for that last lap but he kept going strong,” Moreno said. “When someone peeks over their shoulder, it gets me more motivated. I know they’re worried about me.”
Moreno ran four events, winning the 800 in 2:08.10, placing sixth in the 3,200 where Normandia won it in 10:01.79 and anchoring the 1st place 4x400 relay (3:37.11). The Sunlake 4x100 relay team of Arielle Boone, Nia Johnson, Melissa Mowery and Jaymonda Callmes, broke the school record by winning the event in 51.52.
Zephyrhills’ Mya Neal won her second straight 100 hurdles conference title with a 16.95 in the finals. Wesley Chapel football star Isaiah Bolden took both the boys sprints with a 10.96 in the 100 Meter and a 22.48 in the 200 finals.
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