Distance sweeps are not common at the state level. The switch to the split format schedule, where the three individual distance events are spread out over two days, opened an opportunity for Bolles' Caitlin Collier to sweep them in 2016. It was the first time since 2012 that an individual athlete swept the distance events and only the fifth ever in Florida.
If this past weekend's trend continues, there could be a surge in distance triples as three female athletes did it this weekend at IMG Academy in Bradenton. Oak Hall's Grace Blair became just the sixth athlete in state history to pull the distance sweep at state.
"She actually pulled of the quad (running on the winning 4x800m relay), this has been a very special year for her (Blair)," Oak Hall coach Edwin McTureous said.
Blair scored 30 points on her own and had a hand in 40 of Oak Hall's 75 points. It was enough to push the team past Admiral Farragut for the title 75-54. It marked back-to-back titles for the Oak Hall girls.
"It's really about the whole team though," McTureous said. "Nadiria Evans took second in the triple jump and ran on both 4x4 and 4x8 relays, we scored in pretty much every event - it was a team effort."
Still, if Blair would have come to state with just the 4x8 relay, they would have scored 40 points and taken fourth place - just for some perspective. Blair set it all up with wins in the 800m and 3200m on Friday, both 4x8 and 1600m titles had to be earned on Saturday.
In the 4x800m final, Oak Hall and Father Lopez took the early lead. Even into the final exchange both relays were within arm's reach of each other, with Father Lopez anchor Lexi Duckett getting the baton just a moment prior to Blair getting Oak Hall's. Blair shot out of the exchange, taking the lead on the first lap but Duckett revoked the lead heading into the second lap and held it all the way through the last turn. That's when Blair turned it up even more and got past Duckett on the home stretch to take it in for the win in 9:33.65.
In the 1600m final, Blair tangled with her nemesis from the 800m final in Shorecrest's Olivia Rovin. It was Blair and Rovin pushing the early pace with St. Thomas Aquinas' Samantha Folio in third. The trio stayed close until the final lap when Blair and Rovin began to separate. Then with about 70 meters to go, Blair kicked it out to win in 5:03.86.
"I was so tired last night I slept right through the night," Blair said. "I woke up in the morning nervous but ready to make it happen. My coaches were telling me that this is what I have been preparing for and I went into today as positively as I could."
Blair is just a junior. Out of Door Academy eighth-grader Saraiah Walkes was not to be outdone. While Walkes focuses more on shorter sprints, her accomplishments over the weekend could not be overshadowed. Dominance. At the 1A level from 100m to 400m, Walkes was unstoppable. She took the fastest 100m qualifying time (12.28) into the finals and ran into a negative 2.7 wind factor to win it in 12.35. She took the top 200m qualifying time (24.89) into the finals and won that in 25.20 into a negative 3.9 headwind. Evangelical Christian's Moriah Oliveira and Admrial Farragut's Jazmine Alderman gave her a good push. Then again in the 400m, Walkes ran the fastest prelim time (56.63) and then won the final in 55.57.
"Last year, I had bad shin splints and took second in the 100 final," Walkes said. "I'm really happy God gave me this opportunity and that my coaches believe in me."
Between Blair and Walkes, every individual running title without a hurdle on the track, was gobbled up. Both hurdle titles were gobbled up by Lakeland Christian freshman Britain Musick. Musick went 15.49 to win the 100m hurdles and 43.94 to win the 300m hurdles. Hurdling freshmen Musick, Courtney Sage, and Kendal Johnson all made the top four in both hurdle finals.
In the field events, Admiral Farragut's Katie Barnett defended her triple jump title, hitting 11.75m (38-6.75) on her second attempt to win it. That's off her 12.2m jump that won the 2016 title but she'll take it.
"Some of my best jumps were fouls," Barnett said. "I had a few 40s but they were scratches."
Barnett, a senior, is headed to Princeton on a track scholarship and it excited to work with coach Rueben Jones, who specializes in training triple jumpers. Barnett took second in the long jump on Friday.
Mount Dora junior Cooper Monn won both throwing events with an 11.87m (38-11.50) to win shot and 38.35m (125-10) to win disc.
On the boys side, there was a bit more sharing. So much that St. Stephens Episcopal and Westminster Academy split the team title, each with 42 points. It was actually a three-way tie coming into the final event, the 4x400m relay with Mount Dora, First Academy and St. Stephens all tied with 34. Westminster was on the outside looking in with 32. Even fifth-place Indian Rocks Christian was sitting with 30. It came down to who would win the 4x400m relay. Even that didn't come without nail-shredding drama. Westminster and St. Stephens were neck and neck into the last legs with Patrick Sastre and Jordan Murrell running them. Sastre brought it in first but just six-tenths of a second ahead of Murrell. Indian Rocks took third and First Academy fifth. It set the first place tie and just six points separating the top four teams. Westminster and St. Stephens even went 1-2 in the 4x800m relay.
Defending 300m hurdle champ Owen Clanahan of Bishop McLaughlin lined up for a different event at states, the 100m and still won the final with an 11.03. Clanahan has had issues with his Achilles tendon this season and thought that the hurdles would re-aggravate it, so he switched to the 100m and won it, making it back-to-back state titles but in different events. Clanahan made it a sprinting sweep, taking the 200m final in 21.96. First Academy freshman Alex Shields swept the hurdles, going 14.52 in the 110s and 38.96 in the 300s.
The Zephyrhills Christian Academy didn't even have a track program last season. They don't have a track on campus but their 4x100m relay of Javan Smith, Dominic Moss, Clavin Samuel and Evan Miller won the state title with a 43.40. The St. Stephens relay looked to have initially won it but an out-of-zone exchange disqualified them.
"This is the first everything for us," Zephyrhills Christian coach Mike Smith II said. "We had a meet at Kathleen High School in Lakeland this year that started me thinking we had something special going on here."
The Pine School's Chase Hyland ran a 4:28.74 to win the 1600m.
Canterbury School's Berrick Jean Louis set a personal record winning the high jump at 2.05m (6-8.75). Jacore Irving of Sneads won the 1A triple on Saturday at 13.97m (45-10). Mount Dora's Jesiah Pierre won boys disc with a 46.34m (155-4) and Indian Rocks' James Thorpe won the shot at 16.73 (54-10.75). Somerset Academy's Jonathan Meyer won the 400m final in 50.71.