'Canes sweep Alachua Track Championships


Gainesville's Benjamin Roe crosses the finish line ahead of Buchholz's Purnell Jones in the 4x400 relay during the Alachua County track meet at Oak Hall School in Gainesville on Wednesday.

Brett Le Blanc/Correspondent
Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 12:06 a.m.

Buchholz's 11-year reign as boys county track and field champions has ended, thanks to its most bitter rival.

Gainesville, which was a relay disqualification away from winning the boys title last year, also won its second straight outright girls title on Wednesday at the Alachua County Track and Field Championships at Oak Hall.

The finals were delayed by 30 minutes because of rain, but once the meet got started, it was obviously going to be a showdown between the Hurricanes and Bobcats on both sides.

But the boys race went to the last event, the 4x400 relay. Nursing a four-point lead going in, Gainesville had to finish at least in the top two to clinch it. But the Hurricanes won the relay and the overall title.

And they did it without one of their national elite runners in junior Tony James.

“We had a disqualification last year and we came back and handled the baton even in the wet weather today, so we are excited, the boys are really excited,” said Gainesville coach Rod McNealy. “Today with Tony (James) not running, and of course he is a big part of our team, I think it shows the depth that we have. We had a fairly young team before Tony even got here last year that finished third in the state. So the kids are very confident, especially the boys.”

Gainesville won all three relays and had four individual champions in Ralph Webb (long jump), UF signee Chris Thompson (100), Kenric Young (200) and Dontarian Evans (400). For Webb (23-8) and Thompson (10.79), both wins were season-best efforts.

The ‘Canes were particularly potent in the sprints, with Thompson and Young going 1-2 in the 100, and sweeping the top three in the 200 with Young (21.74), Thompson and Evans.

“When we were planning our gameplan for the meet, we knew it was going to be close the whole time with Buchholz,” McNealy said. “We figured we could go 1-2-3 in the 200.

“Our senior class, I can't say enough about them. The leadership from Ralph Webb to Chris Thompson to Rashaard Brown has been phenomenal. After last year they had a bad taste in their mouth. They really wanted this victory tonight, and I was proud to see them get it.”

In boys, Buchholz had two individual champions, both in field events, in Peter Emery (pole vault) and Dustin Brock Stalvey (discus). Eastside's Sir Jackson was the only double winner in boys, capturing both the 110 hurdles (15.79) and 300 hurdles (39.67), both tops in the area.

The Rams' Carsten Thue-Bludworth won the 800 while Santa Fe had three champions, also all in field events, in John White (high jump), Darrell Powell (triple jump) and Leandre Rembert (shot put).

P.K. Yonge had two champions in Joseph Janson in the 1600 run and Garrett Westlake in the 3200 with an area-best 9:51.18.

In girls, Gainesville had double winners from Payton Ashe (high jump, 400), Crystal Williams (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles) and freshman Nia Flagg (100, 200). Eastside had a double winner in Shadayza Bullock (discus, shot put).

Oak Hall, which swept both the 1600 and 3200 and finished third as team, had individual champions in Grace Blair (800), Lauren Perry (1600) and Brittney Olinger (3200).

“Crystal Williams was outstanding, as was Payton Ashe and our freshman Nia Flagg, who can really burn up the track,” McNealy said. “It was a very impressive showing by the girls tonight.”

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