Nati Sheppard of Ransom Everglades wouldn’t let the blustery winds keep her from soaring in the FHSAA girls’ Class 1A and 2A track and field championships on Friday at the University of North Florida’s Hodges Stadium.
Sheppard took first-place honors in the 2A girls’ pole vault, jumping 13 feet 3 inches — a personal best and meet record — but it wasn’t enough to help get her team into the top spot. The Ransom girls’ team finished with 73 points, second to Hallandale (105).
Hallandale also won the boys’ 2A team title, fueled by the double hurdling success of senior Antwuan Musgrove.
As for the Raiders girls’ team, Sheppard was not alone in finding success in the field events. In the discus, teammate Debbie Ajabe endured three consecutive fouls before throwing 135 feet 3 inches on her fifth attempt to edge Hallandale’s Lamisha Simmons (130-2).
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“It was really scary,” Ajabe said. “I was trying to calm myself down so I’d be able to throw.”
But it wasn’t all glory for the Ransom Everglades girls, who came close in the 3,200 meter relay but lost to defending state champion Bolles (9:29.89) in a tight race decided on the anchor legs. Ransom finished in 9:34.47.
Lauren Archer had another of the near misses for the Raiders, leading three and a half laps of the girls’ 1,600 before being edged by Caitlyn Collier (4:59.60) of Bolles by less than three seconds.
Other top performers included Jackson’s Tiara McMinn, second in the 2A girls’ high jump.
As for the Ransom boys’, Gabriel Correa came in second to Wolfson’s Connor Vaughan in the 2A boys’ 3,200.
Admiral Farragut, led by four individual victories from Brittany McGee, won the 1A girls’ team championship.
But for South Florida athletes, there was more than the double-champion Chargers coming home with hardware from their Jacksonville trip.
A balanced Westminster Academy squad claimed the team title in the 1A boys’ category, with Sanders Desir’s victory in the 300 hurdles helping to edge First Academy by half a point.
Westminster Christian’s George Williams whipped around the last turn to win the boys’ 400 in Class 1A.
Williams faced a stiff breeze that bothered athletes and spectators alike, blasting gusts in runners’ faces and playing havoc with throw attempts and even wrecking tents in the infield.
But Booker T. Washington’s Vaquan Small — who was used to facing stiff resistance as a Miami Herald All-Dade first-team wide receiver on the football team — was able to get through it.
“I didn’t feel like it was holding me back, but I felt it,” said Small, who won the boys’ 800 and finished third on a tiebreaker in the long jump. “So I knew I had to keep fighting.”