The noise of medals clanking together echoed all over Apalachee Regional Park.
Midst the noise -- the chaos of the state meet -- a huddle formed.
Hugs and positive sentiments were shared, but nothing about this huddle was ordinary or typical. The group that formed was not just from one team with one camp of parents and coaches, but that from two powerhouse teams -- two teams that have shared the longest state meet rivalry in the state of Florida.
"We went out to try and beat you guys today, but you guys ran lights out awesome. Congratulations. I think both of us are better teams, better runners, and better people because of each other. We are really grateful for you guys the last eight years," Coach Tony Ryan of Bolles said to the Pine Crest team.
Pine Crest won the 2019 2A team title with 33 points over long time rival, Bolles' 54 points. The Bulldogs took the win in 2018, 2014, 2013, and 2012 with the Panthers taking the team championship every year in between.
What's most impressive about this rivalry, isn't necessarily the national leading times that come from it year after year, but rather the sportsmanship that has been fostered over the past eight years.
In 2018, after Tsion Yared captured another state win she immediately looked back to watch her teammates finish. After seeing a huge pack of Bolles athletes cruise through, she knew that Bolles was victorious that year. Instead of isolating herself and her team, the Pine Crest ladies hugged every single member of the Bolles varsity squad as they finished -- congratulating them on their epic win. This year, the Bolles ladies showed the same class and sportsmanship with Pine Crest as they always have year after year.
Both Bolles and Pine Crest have set championship records. Pine Crest has had seven individual state champions in the past eight years. The one year they didn't? Oh, well that one went to Bolles' Caitlin Collier. The Bulldogs are tied for the most state team titles with eleven championship wins over the years -- four of them against Pine Crest.
Graduating Panther, Tsion Yared has competed on seven of the eight squads that has battled Bolles over the years and she walks away, tying Holy Trinity's Kayla Hale for the most all-state medals in Florida History.
"Girls those of you that are here that in years to come will be caring on this tradition -- you have a great coach, a great program, and a great tradition here. Continue with what you are doing," Pine Crest's Paul Baur told the Bolles girls.
The huddle concluded with a few jokes between two extremely competitive teams and laughs from both the team, parents, and coaches. No one can deny the sportsmanship example that these teams have set over the years -- the example that they will continue to set in their pursuit of the Florida record book.