All-American sprinters Andrew James of Westminster Academy and Kimani Rushing of Hallandale left it all out on the University of North Florida’s Hodges Stadium track on Friday only to have their team’s state-title fate decided in the field.
James admittedly didn’t bring his “A” game to the Class 1A state finals.
He finished second in the 400 meters, which he won last year, and third in the 200 and 100, but ultimately Terrel Phillips’ victory in the high jump proved pivotal in Westminster edging Orlando First Academy 96.50-90 for the Class 1A boys’ team title.
“I came in here [Friday] with one goal, and that was winning as a team,” James said. “I didn’t perform like I wanted to individually, but we won as a team and that is what means the most to me. In the end, we won first place.”
Rushing stated her case as the Class 2A state finals’ top girls performer with victories in the 300 hurdles and triple jump, and a second-place finish in the 100 hurdles. But Hallandale’s wait for an elusive state girls title continued with the Chargers losing 66-65 to Jacksonville Bolles.
Despite Rushing’s big day, which included rallying the Chargers’ 1,600-meter relay from seventh place to fourth and Edquisha Alvin’s victory in the high jump, Bolles clinched the team title with a second-place finish in the discus to earn eight points. American Heritage’s Phoebe Gustely (126-3) won the event, and Hallandale’s Lamisha Simmons finished seventh to earn two points.
“It’s something we wanted so bad, and to come up one point short, it’s not a good feeling,” Chargers coach John Battle III said.
A torrential downpour and subsequent scattered showers resulted in athletes competing on a soggy track througout the 1A and 2A state finals, which were run simultaneously.
Pine Crest’s Julia Montgomery followed up her state cross-country state title by winning the 1,600 meters, anchoring the Panthers’ runner-up 3,200-relay team and finishing second in the 3,200.
In the 1600, Montgomery took some last-minute instructions from Panthers coach Paul Baur before holding off Bolles’ Mackenzie Wilson in the final 80 meters to win in 5:03.34.
Sixth-grade sensation Tsion Yared finished second in the 1,600, fourth in the 3,200 and ran on the 3,200 relay for the third-place Panthers.
Pine Crest’s John Decker wowed the crowd with a sensational anchor leg that rallied the Panthers boys’ winning 3,200-relay team from a 50-meter deficit.
Decker carried that momentum over to the 800 meters, where he outleaned Montverde’s Jesse Wear at the tape to win in 1:54.95.
Meanwhile, Chaminade’s Gino Brown Jr. capped his breakout senior season by winning the 2A triple jump with a leap of 47-7.
American Heritage’s Deja Parrish, bound for Clemson, fell short of defending her 400 meters title in 2A, finishing sixth in 58.80.
Hallandale’s dynamic boys’ hurdles duo of Antwuan Musgrove and John Battle IV finished second in the 300 hurdles and 110 hurdles, respectively.
The South Florida HEAT’s Kristi Isabelle clocked 47.35 to finish second in the Class 1A 300 hurdles.
Westminster Academy’s Denise Spann finished second in the girls’ 400 (58.05), and Ebony Brown was second in the triple jump.