Thursday night's East Lake Early Bird Invitational in Tarpon Springs was truly a night for the ladies highlighting an event that saw a grand total of five new state leading performances in the girls' track events.
The 3200 meter was particularly special as a total of three girls broke 11 minutes led by Cambridge Christian School junior Mary Ellen Eudaly as the 10:42.72 victor. Eudaly was the 2019 FHSAA Class 4 state runner-up in the event and has a 10:28 lifetime best in the season. Certainly, her season-opening performance indicates she is well on her way to chase that time as well as a state title this spring.
Trailing Eudaly into the finish and under 11 minutes as well were two rising young stars in sophomore Haley Thornton of Palm Harbor University in second place at 10:53 and a mere seventh-grader in Eliana Black of Cambridge Christian in third place with a sensational time of 10:57 for the middle school runner.
Black was an AAU national age-group champion this past fall as well as the FLYRA state champion during the cross country season while holding her own against the older high school girls with a state runner-up finish in the FHSAA Class 1A state race too.
No shortage of distance talent is found at Cambridge Christian School as another one of their star runners in Caroline Lehman was a double winner in the 1600 and 800-meter run including a state-leading and personal best time of 4:55.33.
Lehman was race sharp going into this meet after making a few trips up to Virginia Beach, Virginia to race indoors and take down the Florida state indoor record for two miles in a 10:20 performance at the East Coast Invitational. Her 2:20 win in the 800 at the East Lake Early Bird Invitational was also a new personal best. The 3200-meter runner-up Haley Thornton also went under the magical five-minute barrier for 1600 meters to combine with her sub 11 effort in the 3200 with a time of 4:56.39 to push Lehman to the line.
The times were not only flying in the distance races as East Lake senior Anna Cincotta put on a clinic in the hurdles with a complete take over of the state leaderboard in both the girls' 100-meter hurdles with a 14.23 clocking (albeit wind-aided) and coming back later to throw down another Florida number one as well as PR in the 300-meter hurdles at 45.87.
Cincotta nearly added a third state best at the meet with a winning leap of 18'1 (5.51m) in the long jump, which is Florida's second-best performance of the season in the horizontal jump. She was a runner-up in the 100-meter dash to Ella Tennant of River Ridge, who had herself quite the meet as well.
Tennant rolled to the state's fastest wind-legal time in the 100-meter dash with a swift 12.07 clocking, while doubling back to win the 200-meter dash in Florida's third-fastest all-conditions performance at 25.56. Tennant was an FHSAA 3A state finals qualifier in the 100-meter dash two years ago as a freshman. She appears now as a junior ready to really be a state contending force in both the 100 and 200 for 3A.
The George Steinbrenner girls 4x800 meter relay squad was the last state-leading time to be mentioned and produced from the East Lake Early Bird Invite as they just missed out on starting their season with a sub 10-minute performance with their first-place finishing time of 10:02.91.
The boys' portion of the meet did not have the same assault on the state leaderboard but had several noteworthy individual performers including Mitchell senior Cole Castro who won a trio of events. Castro cleared 6'2.75" in the high jump, leaped 20'8.75" in the long jump, and hurdled 15.02 in the 110 meter hurdles in a great display of versatility on the day.
The only other multi-event boys' winner besides Castro included Palm Harbor University junior Bobby Hansen who rolled to the top times in the 100-meter dash at 11.27 and the 200 meter dash at 23.12 on a gusty day in Tarpon Springs with both races wind-aided. Castro's teammate Rahshad Mcclanahan threw for the best marks of the field in the discus throw (129'11.75") and javelin (129'0") as well with nearly identical marks using different implements.