It was May 9, 1975, when Houston McTear came busting toward the finish line in the high school state track and field meet at Showalter Field in Winter Haven.
The event was a preliminary heat leading to the 100-yard dash final in Class AA. The stands were far from full. Not all eyes were trained on what was playing out before them.
What happened next changed the destiny of one life and unintentionally sharpened the focus on the backwoods Florida Panhandle. One stopwatch, and this helps clarify an era of hand-timed races as well as the distinction of yards compared to the metric standard that finally gained hold two years later, clocked McTear in 8.9 seconds. Two others read 9.0.