In a weekend full of star athletes pulling off triple title wins, Miami Southridge's Simone Mason was eager to make her mark. With Grace Blair, Caitlin Collier and Krissy Gear pulling off distance triples, the race was on to see who could pull off sprinting triples. Norland's Cooper had a great shot at it but fell short in the 100m. Out of Door Academy eighth-grader Sariah Walkes did it in Class A, making her just the fifth athlete in state history to pull it off. The sprint trio hearkens back to some of the state's elite. Miami Jackson's Robin Reyonolds did it twice, once in 2009, once in 2011. Zundra Feagin and Kembala Parkins both did it in 1991 and Ceforina Polk did it in 1981.
The 100m final was first up on Saturday and Mason won it, beating Lakewood Ranch's Sofia Falco 11.70 to 11.83. Mason's teammate Shaniya Williams went 11.95 for third. Next up, was the 400m final. This one Mason could taste after coming up two-one-hundredths of a second short of the 2016 state title in the event. It was Palm Beach Central's Karimah Davis that edged Mason in 2016, it would be Davis to make her earn it in 2017.
The two fastest female 400m times of the weekend came as Mason and Davis tore up track in the final. Mason won it in a head-spinning 52.69. Davis was right there in second at 52.98. Mason's time would slide in as a US #3 but Mason's 52.42 from the GMAC Championship still sits at #2.
Saturday evening, Mason lined up for the 200m final, ready to etch her name in the record books. Again, it would be Davis applying the pressure. Pressure either crushes or makes diamonds. The pressure and Mason made diamonds as she won it in 23.48 with Davis in second at 23.87. Mason does have a 23.00 from Bob Hayes that is the third best time in the US this season but sweeping the sprints is a feat uncommon. She will join an elite group of girls that have won three titles in one state meet. She also became the sixth individual, female athlete to win the 100m, 200m and 400m in the same state meet.
"It feels really great winning my first (state) title and then winning three," Mason said. "Every time I go up against Karimah (Davis), you really never know who's going to win."
The battle between Mason and Davis partially overshadowed the tremendous efforts from Kayla Johnson and Williams. Williams was third in the 100m final, fourth in the 200m final and Johnson was third in the 400m final. It left little doubt that the Southridge girls would be hauling off the team trophy, too.
"Consistency is key, and that's really what helped us all along this season," Mason said. "It feels really great, we've worked really hard for it (state title)."
Johnson and Mason, combined with Kasia Cooper and D'Anna Hallman to win the 4x400m in 3:43.04. Jonae Harris took fifth in the 100m finals and fourth in the 300m finals. Courtney Gibson grabbed third in triple jump 12.11m (40-00). Samia Liverpool took fifth in the high jump.
The Southridge girls comfortably out-paced St. Thomas Aquinas 90.5 to 54.50. With all the fanfare surrounding the sprints on Saturday, Southridge's Kayla Johnson's 800m win on Friday might have gone under-noticed but her thrilling finish, edging Wharton's Bryanna Rivers 2:10.39 to 2:10.51 was instrumental to the team's victory.
"I felt them, then I saw them (Rivers and Riverview's Bailey Hertenstein), I even peeked back with 100 meters to go," Johnson said. "Then I knew I had to shift into another gear."
Johnson looked primed to help the 4x800m relay take the title and got out to an early lead as the first leg but Steinbrenner and Winter Park began chipping away after the first exchange. By the third leg, Winter Park had moved in front and they turned up the heat, putting eight seconds between them and the rest of the field. Elizabeth Jenkins to Hana Herndon, to Melanie White and then off to Rafaella Gibbons for the anchor leg. Gibbons ran it out to clock a 9:17.60.
Lakewood Ranch senior Sofia Falco defended her long jump title and moved up from second to first in the triple. Falco hit a 6.00m (19-8.25) on her last jump of the prelims and had to contend with running prelims on Friday so she passed on her finals jumps but retained the title. On Saturday, she pulled a similar stunt, hitting 13.00m (42-8) on her very first triple jump. Then she had to rush over and take second in the 100m final (11.83) and third in the 200m final (24.26). Falco put one more triple jump in but her first one held for her second-straight title in the event. All in a day's work.
"It was surprisingly cool today, that helps," Falco said. "It's very nerve-wracking, I have anxiety about when to leave and go because I do four events. Winning long jump two years in a row really sets and example and makes me feel accomplished all the work I've done."
Last year's 1600m state champ, Bailey Hertenstein of Riverview, won it in dramatic and unforgettable fashion. Overshadowed by three other female runners pulling distance triples, Hertenstein was right there. Her 3200m win on Friday (10:30.89) was buttressed by her 4:54.55 that won the 1600m on Saturday. Fletcher's Kayley Delay was Hertenstein's shadow in both races, less two seconds behind her in the 1600 and nine seconds behind in the 3200m. All that separated Hertenstein from the triple were Johnson, Rivers and less than 1.5 seconds.
"It was terrifying, I knew they were all really good competitors and I haven't run a great 3200 meter time this season," Hertenstein said. "I was a little disappointed with my 800, I worked really hard in it, I left everything on the track but it was kind of still rough for me."
Olympia senior Kenya Dillon went out on a high note, winning the 100m hurdle final in 14.34. Evans' Jamiah Jackson won the 300m hurdle final in 42.65.
St. Thomas Aquinas freshman Zatoria Thompson, not far removed from the middle school, state high jumping title, won her first high school title clearing 1.70m (5-7). Arielle Ho of Varela, another freshman was second at 1.62m.
Haidyn Turner of Winter Springs won the pole vault at 3.50m (11-5.75). Boone's Jae Crawford won disc at 41.69m (136-9) and took fourth in shot.
Oviedo's Merari Coronado won shot with a throw of 12.77m (41-10.75).
On the boys side, it was Miramar pushing past Christopher Columbus 70 to 50. Columbus locked up the relays but Miramar scored huge in the sprints. Columbus' Trajan Bandy, Christopher Henderson, Joshua Jobe and Tyler Harrell ran a 40.97 to win the 4x100m relay, just in front of Sandalwood's 41.02 and Miramar' 41.11.
Henderson, younger brother Xavier, Harrell and Cameron Daniel combined to win the 4x400m relay in a down-to-the-wire battle with Miramar. The Columbus boys just got them 3:15.26 to Miramar's 3:15.70 but the Miramar boys were all over the individual sprints.
Terrence Horne Jr. took second in the 100m finals (10.82) with teammates Jamal Walton and Taylor Banks in fifth and sixth. Walton won the 200m final in 21.31 with Horne Jr. in second at 21.78. Banks grabbed eighth in that final as well. Walton won the 400m final in a jaw-dropping 46.11. Walton's time would take over the fourth best time in the US this year but his 45.70 from regionals already sits at #2. Southridge junior Kameron Davis took third in the 110m hurdle final and Rodney Scott took sixth in the 300m hurdle final.
"Nothing is easy, you have to compete and come out with your best," Walton said.
Orange City's Lorenzo Lingard swept the hurdle events, going 14.02 to win the 110s. and 36.63 to win the 300s. Lyman's Tyreek Thyme was just fractions away in both finals. He ran a 14.13, just over a tenth of a second behind Lingard. In the 300 final, they were so close to the line, the time had to be drawn out to the thousandths. Lingard got it 36.624 to 36.630.
"I would not have had that time (36.63) without Thyme," Lingard said.
It marked Lingard's first hurdle double in a state meet and back-to-back titles in the 110s. Lingard had a lane violation at districts in the 300s last season and was eager for redemption in 2017.
Lakewood Ranch's John Rivera was dominant in the distance events. On Friday, he won the 800m in 1:53.16, out-lasting Columbus' Deshay Fernandes.
"The last 50 meters was a surreal moment," Rivera said. "I knew I was winning my first state title."
It would not be his last as Rivera came back on Saturday and anchored the winning 4x800m relay (7:53.45). He came ever so close to a third gold but Freedom's Timothy Doyle ran a 4:21.45 to just get in front of Rivera's 4:22.64.
In the 3200m final from Friday, Calum McFeteridge of Bucholtz ran a 9:29.39 to take it by four seconds.
Sarasota's Jaasiel Torres won high jump at 2.05m (6-8.75). Winter Park senior Gregory Skage cleared 4.70m (15-5) to win pole vault. It only came with a jump off against East Ridge's Jonathan Griffin-Heard. Torres got 4.70 on his first attempt and Heard on his third attempt. Colonial senior Nyron Tate won long jump at 7.23m (23-8.75). Oakleaf junior Melvin Briley won triple at 15.11m (49-7). Michael Peppin of Flagler Palm Coast won disc at 50.75m (166-6) and Manatee's Seth Walter won shot with a 17.35m (56-11.25).