The American High boys’ team won by what amounts to lapping the field while Southridge High won by the equivalent of a lean at the tape Saturday in the Dade County Youth Fair Track & Field Meet at Miami’s Ferguson High.
The drama of the meet was provided in the girls’ final event when Southridge won the championship by 1 1/2 points by finishing first in the 4x400 relay with Brianna Payne anchoring that race. Ferguson finished third in that race, and if the Falcons had come in one spot higher at second they would have won the championship by half a point over Southridge.
Southridge finished with 132 points, and Ferguson totaled 130.5.
“It was very interesting,” understated winning Southridge coach Dja Dugue.
The girls’ meet was so close that Dugue laughed and held her hand up. All over the palm in ink were numerals.
“I was counting team points on my hand,” she admitted.
A down-to-the-wire meet between Southridge and Ferguson is not uncommon. Last year, the two schools tied in the Youth Fair, one of the top events before the run towards a state title begins.
Of her team and its victory, Dugue said, “Sometimes it doesn’t take an Army to win, it just takes people that will do what they need to do for the good of the team.”
Next up for Southridge is districts, regionals and the state meet. They will be underdogs at states to St. Thomas Aquinas, Fort Lauderdale Northeast and, of course, local rival Ferguson will be in the mix.
“They will all be coming after us,” Dugue said.
That said, she projected about winning a possible state title.
“If everything plays in our favor, we can win,” she said. “It’s like a chess game for us, we have to have every piece in place to win.”
American, coached by Enrico Knowles and already the winner of the Greater Miami Athletic Conference championship this season, did not have to be nervous most of Saturday. American amassed 145 points with Belen Jesuit finishing second with 82 points.
“We did what we expected to do,” Knowles said. “We’re one of two teams favored to win state. “St. Thomas Aquinas is the other one. It will be a knockdown brawl.”
However, at this point, Aquinas goes in as the favorite. Twice this season, competing in invitationals, the Raiders have outscored American.
“OK, so it’s like David vs. Goliath,” said Knowles, who vows to bring plenty of slingshots along. “We certainly won’t back off. If we go down at state, we’re going to go down standing up.”