The track and field coaches at Pine Forest High school were not entirely sure what to expect this season.
Fielding a group of mostly underclassman — many talented, but untested — expectations were measured.
After cruising to repeat titles in the District 1-3A championships however, it is quickly becoming clear those expectations are being exceeded.
The Eagles boys and girls track teams cruised to first-place finishes in Wednesday’s district meet at Washington High, the boys finishing with 167.50 points and the girls finishing with 184.
The top four places in each individual event advance to next week’s region tournament hosted by Tallahassee Chiles.
“It’s been a good thing for our team,” said C.J. Washington, boys coach for the Eagles. “We started from scratch the first of the year and we brought the competitive spirit back to track.
“That’s the big thing. The kids are having fun and they’re starting to enjoy themselves.”
The boys turned in eight first-place finishes on Wednesday, including a sweep of the relay events.
Stefan Pressley, Jeremy Williams, Michael Watson and Donte’ Howard took the 4×800 relay title with a time of 8:19.77, then Williams, Pressley and Howard turned around and finished with first-, second- and fourth-place finishes in the 800 meter run.
“Our 4×800 team … They’ve been working hard,” said Washington. “To put an analogy out there, they’re like the offensive lineman of the track group. Everybody loves to see speed, but the 4×800 guys really busted their tails this year.
“They’ve really turned it on and now they get to go to regionals.”
Pressley and Williams also turned in first-place wins in the 1600 and 800 meter runs as well with times of 4:39.87 and 2:04.41, respectively.
“It just shows us how much we’ve improved this season,” said Pressley. “Now we just need to go back and practice and try to improve more.
“Me, Dante and Michael have been running all season. Me and Michael have been running together since freshman year.”
Gulf Breeze was second place as a team with 86.50 points and three first-place finishes.
In the girls events, a close battle for second place between Pace and Pensacola High ended with the Patriots holding 107 points and the Tigers 101.
Pace sisters Haley and Rachel Kling led the way for the Patriots with Haley posting wins in the 800 and 1600 events with times of 2:24.33 and 5:37.73 while Rachel finished first in the 3200 with 12:59.17.
Pensacola High’s Malainna White, a sophomore, took top honors in the high jump, long jump and contributed to the 4×100 team’s first place finish.
Six of the Tigers athletes took first-place finishes in the event.
Pine Forest remained the team to beat as a number of athletes finished with PR’s, including Alexis Lucas record-setting discus toss.
“I was very happy. I started crying because I was so happy,” laughed Lucas, a junior that had her sights set on the record all season.
Her 129-foot toss bested the previous record by two feet.
“The second throw was a scratch and third through was like 128,” Lucas said. “I felt really good about it, but I didn’t know that I actually hit close to 130. At first I thought I wasn’t even close.”
“Everybody’s peaking at the exact right time,” said Pine Forest coach Paul Bryan. “In a way, this rain that we’ve got has kept us from practicing, but it’s also given us fresh legs. They got fresh legs right now and that’s why they’re hitting all these great times and great throws.”
“It’s one of the toughest regions in the state and they’re going to really get pushed next week,” he added. “That’s great, you can’t buy that kind of experience and we need that. We really, really need it and I’m looking forward to it.”
District 1-3A Track and Field Championships
Wednesday at Washington High School
High School Girls
Team Scores: 1. Pine Forest 184; 2. Pace 107; 3. Pensacola High 101; 4. Washington 77; 5. Gulf Breeze 71; 6. Milton 56; 7. Tate 39; 8. Escambia 19.
100m—1. Cierra Smith (Pensacola High), 12.66
200m—1. Cierra Smith (Pensacola High), 26.37
400m—1. Loren Moorer (Pensacola High), 58.57
800m—1. Haley Kling (Pace), 2:24.33
1600m—1. Haley Kling (Pace), 5:37.73
3200m—1. Rachel Kling (Pace), 12:59.17
100 hurdles—1. Shaniya Sanders (PF), 15.74
300 hurdles—1. Shaniya Sanders (PF), 46.55
4×100—1. Pensacola High (Brianna Hamilton, Tia Johnson, Loren Moorer, Malainna White), 4:02.38
4×800—1. Pine Forest (Gabrielle Fountain, Aaleiyah Knight, Michaela Thompson, Justice Waldrop), 10:19.84
High Jump—1. Malainna White (Pensacola High), 5-04.00
Pole Vault—1. Lakeyah Blackmon (PF), 9-00.00
Long Jump—1. Malainna White (Pensacola High), 17-10.50
Triple Jump—1. Tytavia Hardy (Washington), 35-09.50
Shot Put—1. D’Erica Goldsmith (EHS), 39-06.75
Discus—1. Alexis Lucas (PF), 129-03.
High School Boys
Team Scores: 1. Pine Forest 167.50; 2. Gulf Breeze 86.50; 3. Washington 80.50; 4. Tate 70; 5. Pace 67.50; 6. Escambia 67; 7. Milton 62; 8. Pensacola High 52.
100m—1. Marcus Reaves (PF), 10.84
200m—1. Juwan Smith (PHS), 22.49
400m—1. Quintin McGhee (Tate), 50.59
800m—1. Jeremy Williams (PF), 2:04.41
1600m—1. Stefan Pressley (PF), 4:39.87
3200m—1. Ryan Von Brock (GB), 10:27.05
110 hurdles—1. Dominique Craig (MHS), 14.66
300 hurdles—1. Dominique Craig (MHS), 39.51
4×100—1. Pine Forest (Jacob Copeland, Nyheir Davis, Jaden Gardner, Marcus Reaves), 43.02
4×400—1. Pine Forest (Elijah Charlton, Azayah Suggs, Christopher Williams, Jeremy Williams), 3:26.78
4×800—1. Pine Forest (Donte’ Howard, Stefan Pressley, Michael Watson, Jeremy Williams), 8:19.77
High Jump—1. Cal Dermody (GB), 6-02.00
Pole Vault—1. Raquan Nelson (PF), 12-06.00
Long Jump—1. Daveyon Finkley (PF), 22-00.00
Triple Jump—1. Ethyn Periman (MHS), 44-07.00
Shot Put—1. Alonte Thompson (Tate), 53-03.00
Discus—1. Will Finley (GB), 151-09
• WHAT: Region 1-3A Track and Field Championships.
• WHEN: Thursday, April 23.
• WHERE: Tallahassee Chiles is hosting (location TBA).
• ADMISSION: $7.