Roger Pettingell was front and center in the Calvary Christian boys’ track team members joining their counterparts on the girls’ team as Region 4-1A champions at Westminster Academy Sports Complex on Friday.
Pettingell’s scintillating anchor leg sparked the Eagles’ 400-meter relay team to victory, and he finished second in the 200 before returning to lead the Eagles 1,600-meter relay team in a region-title clinching victory in 3:25.35.
As Pettingell crossed the finish line in the 400 relay, he screamed “Yeah baby!” and pointed to the sky.
“I was looking at my boys praying for them because I know the Lord gives us strength in the hardest times,’’ Pettingell said. “We wanted to get handoffs, speed, everthing and the Lord blessed us with that today.”
No race, however, provided as much drama as the boys’ 100 meters, which came down to a photo finish between Dade Christian’s Terrence Alls and John Carroll’s Edwin Thomas.
Both sprinters clocked 11.26 but following a lengthy review, Alls, who finished eighth in the state finals last season, was declared the winner.
“I knew it would be a good race because the John Carroll runner had the fastest time in the prelims,’’ Alls said. “I’ve just been going harder in practice this season. My teammates have been pushing me to go faster. I think I can compete with the best. I will have a chance at the gold.”
The top four finishers qualify for the FHSAA Class 1A state Finals at the University of North Florida on April 26.
Behind a 1-2 finish by Amanda Gale and Emily Gale in the pole vault, victories by its 3,200 relay team and Ebony Brown in the 200 (25.93), the Calvary Christian girls’ team put itself in prime position to defend its state title next week.
But it was Upperroom Christian’s Adanaca Brown who proved to be the biggest star on the girls’ side. Brown, the reigning state 300 hurdles champion, won that event in 44.65, barely holding off an upset bid by Coral Springs Christian’s Delise Williams (44.66), won the 100 hurdles and the long jump.
“This is an honor for me,’’ Brown said.”I’m not too happy about the 15.04 in the 100 hurdles because I’ve done better but states will be much better. It would be an honor to win both hurdles at states. I would cry.”
Westminster Academy star sophomore ong sprinter Andrew James, who missed the entire 2012 season after underoing an appendectomy, did everything in his power to keep the Lions’ boys team in contention for a repeat Region title, winning the 400 in 48.39 and the 200 in 21.84.
“This means everything,’’ James said. “I came back, worked hard and I am getting the results. My ultimate goal in the 400 at states is 47.7 or 47.8. I think I got out way too hard. I wasn’t able to finish how I wanted to.”
Highlands Christian’s Ryan Davis, in his typical hard-driving style, took a step closer to a repeat 300 hurcdles state title by winning in 38.76. Davis started his big night by winning the 110 hurldes in 14.74.
“With me it all starts in coming out of the blocks,’’Davis said. “This feels great. It is a good motivator going into states. Hopefully I can win both.”