JACKSONVILLE -- Boyd Anderson’s Kali Davis-White overcame a rain-soaked track surface at Hodges Stadium on Saturday to earn her place among the greatest sprinters in state history.
The prize of a highly touted FSU recruiting class separated from a loaded 200-meter field on the curve and powered down the straightaway to clock a state-record and nation-leading time of 23.05 seconds at the Class 4A state finals.
As brilliant as Davis-White performed, it wasn’t enough to keep St. Thomas Aquinas from halting the Cobras’ one-year state title reign.
Led by Kendall Ellis, who won her third consecutive 400-meter state title and led the Raiders’ 1,600 relay team to victory, the Raiders broke a state title drought that extended to 2005 and moved into second all-time with nine state titles.
“I am definitely excited for the girls,” said Raiders’ coach Alex Armenteros, who won his fifth consecutive state title. “It’s been a long time coming. Under these conditions there were a lot of areas they could have messed up but they did a great job embracing the weather and doing an incredible job.”
Aquinas, who also got victories from freshman Shanell Atkins in the shot put (42-11.50), its 3,200 relay and runner-up finishes by Krystal Sparling in the 100 and 200, is set up for another extended state reign with a roster stocked with nationally-ranked underclassmen.
“I’m so proud of my team,” Ellis said. “So much work went into practice. We knew what we wanted to come out and accomplish. We knew what we had to get done today.”
Davis-White’s new time eclipsed the 23.36 set by Erica Whipple in 2001 and ranks No. 3 on the World Juniors list and No. 25 in the world overall.
“Oh my gosh, I am so happy right now,” Davis-White said. “The key was my curve. I don’t even know if I ran it right. Don’t know. All I know is I ran 23.05. I don’t even know how to act right now.”
Davis-White’s historic run highlighted a tour-de-force in the sprints, which included a victory in the 100 and leading the Cobras to a successful defense of their 400-meter relay title.
Inclement weather and a looming thunderstorms resulted in meet officials moving the state finals to a timed finals format.
Without having to run three preliminaries, Davis-White had more than enough fuel left in the tank after winning the 100 in 11.70 seconds and leading the Cobras’ 400-meter relay team with Daeshon Gordon, Jamilla White and Comfort Gebor to a successful title defense in 46.66.
On the boys’ side, Aquinas’ bid to extend a record-setting streak to six consecutive state titles ended with a third-place finish behind Olympia and Colonial.
Boyd Anderson’s Daeshon Gordon wasn’t able to defend her 100 hurdles title — finishing second — but returned to win the 300 hurdles in a career-best 42.16 (U.S. No. 6).
Meanwhile, South Broward’s Kahlil Henderson made good on sprint guru Washington Dix’s prediction Henderson would win states by striking gold in 21.20.
Henderson got a lightning quick start out of the blocks and pulled away with 40 meters left to win comfortably.
“I worked hard for this and I did everything I was supposed to do,” Henderson said. “I saw myself coming to get everybody on the curve. I just took advantage of it and ran my race. First I want to thank God and coach Dix for helping me get my fast start in practice.”