A total of 23 schools competed at Friday's North Port Invitational, which had the feel of a big-time and huge Saturday meet compressed into a 7-hour evening meet from a 3:30 PM start to just finishing up after 10 PM.
The meet produced the nation's fastest wind-legal races in the 100 and 110 meter hurdles by athletes from the same school, a pair of new state leading times on the track and actually, a few more as well if count and filter out for only wind-legal performances. Let's highlight our six favorite races to watch from the 2021 North Port Invitational.
Girls 400 - Kylah Buckle Runs Down Northwestern's Butler In Front Of Home Crowd
It was the season debut in the 400-meter dash for Miami Northwestern's Aaliyah Butler, who was the 4A state champion back in 2019 with a 52.25 PR. She appeared well on her way after 300 meters into the race at North Port to enjoy a solid rust buster race and victory.
Not so fast though said North Port junior Kylah Buckle as she summoned a late surge in front of her home crowd to run down a tiring Butler to score a major upset and knock two seconds off her personal best in 54.61.
The performance also makes Buckle the current state leader in the event and certainly now in the discussion for being the 4A state title contender in the event after defeating the last champion in Butler (2nd, 55.61). In that same 2019 FHSAA State Finals for the 4A girls 400, Buckle finished in 10th place at 56.66.
Boys 110 Hurdles - Leonard Mustari Goes Sub 14 Seconds Wind Legal!
The recent adidas Indoor Nationals champion in the 60-meter hurdles, Leonard Mustari of Dunbar, earlier in this season ran some very fast but heavily wind-aided performances well under 14 seconds at the Louie Bing Classic including a 13.82 season-best runner-up showing in the finals to Jerry Philippe (13.49).
At the North Port Invitational with virtually no wind (+0.1 reading), Mustari put down a way more impressive race performance becoming the first hurdler in Florida to break 14 seconds this spring with a wind-legal US #1 time in 13.96. He has only run faster a few times before with a wind-legal time including claiming an AAU Junior Olympic Games title last August in Satellite Beach.
In the long jump, Mustari also recorded a new personal best leap of 23'11.50", which is the second best mark in the state of Florida and fifth-best overall nationally.
Girls 300 Hurdles - Lucheyona Weaver Sweeps Hurdles Against Loaded Field
It was a big night for Dunbar's Lucheyona Weaver as she was the lone athlete in the entire meet to win a grand total of 3 events individually.
The adidas Indoor Nationals champion in 60-meter hurdles, Weaver kicked off her evening by rolling to a wind-legal US #1 victory of 13.88 in the 100-meter hurdles in a very clean and technically sound race from start to finish. Like Mustari, she ran faster in a heavily wind-aided, but distance runner-up performance to Eddiyah Frye at Louie Bing Classic last month classic in 13.52. Her time and performance on Friday night with an insignificant tailwind reading of +0.7 was a significantly more impressive race than last month in South Florida.
She was quickly back on the track for the last section of the 100-meter dash which she motored down the straightaway again finishing well ahead of the rest of the field in a 12-second flat performance for her second gold medal of the meet. Only four-hundredths of a second off her personal best in the 100.
In both of her first two races at North Port, Weaver encountered very little serious opposition. The 300-meter hurdles race was a different story. She found company to her left and to her right in Miami Northwestern's Brianna Moss and East Lake's Anna Cincotta late in the race. The Dunbar senior was able to successfully hold both off in a fiercely contested battle with a 44.74 performance to grab her third victory of the meet.
Boys 200 - Trimaine Brown & Teagen Sabo Press Each Other To Sub 22's
It was senior recognition night for North Port athletes and Teagen Sabo was looking to celebrate running in one of his final track meets on his home track with a big win. He did not get the win, but he had to take joy in breaking 22 seconds for the first time with a 21.98 clocking.
Holding Sabo off the win and also going well under 22 seconds with him was Miami Northwestern sophomore Trimaine Brown with a 21.81 personal best victory. It was Brown's first signature and major invitational win of high school with a super-fast time for only a tenth grader as well.
The top two finishers' times since both wind-legal (+0.3) also move them inside the US top 15 rankings list in the event with Brown now sitting at #5 and Sabo slides into the #15 spot.
Girls 800 - Jessica Edwards Improves Upon State Lead In 800 After 5:03 1600
Canterbury School senior Jessica Edwards did not have to show up at the start line for the 800 and could have justifiably scratched after running a hard 5:03 effort to win the 1600 meter run earlier at the North Port Invite. However, Edwards showed her toughness and stretch to not only double back but do it well.
Already the existing state leader in the 800 meter run, Edwards shot out from the gun and blazed the first 400 meters with a 64 second split. She slowed down a bit in the final lap, but was able to slightly better her season-best time down to a US #9 performance of 2:12.80.
The University of Florida signee certainly showed in both of her races at North Port leading wire to wire that she is ready to break thru soon to go under 5 for 1600 meters and back under 2:10 again for 800 meters.
Boys 800 - Turnburger Turns On The Jets At The End To Grab Race Late
The boys 800 was not one of the fastest races in the meet nor producing any state leading or national ranked performances, but the finish itself was special.
There were several lead changes throughout the first 790 meters of the race, but never really mentioned was North Port senior Cameron Turnburger. One of the top seeds coming into the race, Turnburger lurked back as far as eighth place coming off the final turn and last 100 meters of the race. No way he could possibly rally to win that far back in the field that late in the race.
Suddenly, he turned on the jets to walk past virtually the entire field to make up the gap fast and scoot ahead of Miami Northwestern's Daniel Jean-Charles (2nd, 1:59.41), North Port teammate Nicard Labossiere (3rd, 1:59.73), and Dunbar's Ber'Narjay Jackson (4th, 1:59.81) in the final strides before the finish for a dramatic and improbable 1:58.99 win. His teammates and fans swarmed down to the track to celebrate the incredible kick to victory.