BELLE GLADE -- In a close battle with Miami Jackson for the Class 2A Region 4 championship, Booker T. Washington captured three early events to seal the victory Friday night at Effie C. Grear Field at Glades Central High School.
The Generals placed second with 86 points, while Booker T. scored 100. American Heritage-Plantation, the defending state champion, came in third with 67 points.
In the 100-meter dash, Jackson junior Tyrone Thornton led the competition with a 10.43. Three Washington runners — juniors Deltron Hopkins and Krondis Larry as well as sophomore Vaquan Small — won the next four runs.
“The guys have been battling,” Booker T. coach Tim Harris Jr. said. “All day it’s been a battle to close the gap on Miami Jackson. I think our guys fought hard. That’s positive. It’s just been trying to overcome the hiccups and obstacles that come with a track meet of this magnitude.”
Early on within minutes of each other, Larry false started in the 100-meter dash preliminary and Heritage senior Walter Tucker did so in the 400-meter relay.
The Patriots entered Friday with the nation’s top time in the 400-meter relay event with a 40.49. Jackson was second in the country and won the event on Friday.
But the disqualification puts American Heritage in a difficult position to repeat as state champions and gives Booker T. and Jackson each a greater chance of dethroning the Patriots next week at state.
“We’re going to have to win out with everything else we’re doing when we get to state – it’s the luck of the draw. Anything can happen,” Heritage coach Corey Hicks said. “We were looking forward to challenging [Washington] at the state track and field championships. We bring out the best in each other, so for something like that not to occur it would be a travesty.”
Tucker, the defending titleholder in the 110-meter hurdles, finished first with a 13.91 in the event and first in the 300-meter hurdles. He also placed second in the discus after a third-place finish at state last season.
His motto, which he learned from his dad, is to attack the hurdles.
“If you’re not attacking, there’s a possibility you might get hurt,” Tucker said. “When I first started at 11 he told me to kick the hurdle to see if I was attacking the hurdle. Before my race my motto is always get angry even before I run.”
Monsignor Pace junior Fredrick Jones found himself in prime position to defend his shot put title and also maintained his first-place status in the discus on Friday.
American Heritage’s girls’ team, vying for its fourth consecutive state title, recorded 42 more points (128) than second-place Pine Crest.
There are five seniors, including hurdler Khadeeja Dooling, who will try for victories in the 100-meter and 300-meter events. Eighth grader Daesha Rogers won a pair of events — the 800-meter and 1600-meter runs — at state last year.
“Since we started three years ago we’ve been really close as a team and I think it’s made us confident in ourselves and each other,” said Rachelle Alexander, who competes on the defending state champion 4x800 relay. “It pushes us more. We support each other. We don’t think well of just ourselves but as a team as a whole.”