The Land O ' Lakes Gators competed in their first meet last week, with the boys team taking a dominant team victory. The Gator girls came in fourth.
The teams boast some terrific athletes.
The most promising athlete is sophomore Gator Hallie Grimes. Grimes is coming off a state finals appearance where she placed fifth with a time of 58.30 seconds. She ran a qualifying time of 57.43 seconds which was third best. Two of the state's best 400 meter runners graduated last spring in Kimberly Wedderburn and Kala Funderburk. The pace-setter in girls 400 meter in 2012 will be Miami Jackson's Robin Reynolds. However, Jackson High drops down to Class 2A in the new alignments, while Land O'Lakes and Sunlake will compete in Class 3A Region 2 District 6.
The toughest competition Grimes will face will most likely be from in-town. That is, from Hillsborough's fiercesome duo of Ciarra Hawkins and Jorian Orway. Orway has already cracked the minute-mark in 2012, running a 58.47 second race at the Charles Johnson Invitational. Grimes ran a 62.62 second race that easily outpaced the competition at the Gator Quad Meet on February 28.
"We lost two really good runners (Nicole Woodard, Samantha Austin), trying to replace them is going to be tough," said senior Alyssa Lonsway.
Lonsway steps into a leadership role in her senior year. She will compete in the 100 meter, 4x100 meter relay, 4x400 meter relay and long jump. She's also a competitive 200 meter runner.
"I definitely have a little more responsibility this year," said Lonsway.
Freshman Amaris Hill was the school's Athlete of the Month and looks to contribute in the 100 meter, 200 meter and the 4x100 meter relay. She finished first in her heat at the Gator Quad Meet with a time of 13.22 seconds.
"It's nice to have teammates that are so fast, it pushes me to go even faster," Hill said.
On the boys side, senior Darin Patmon continues to impress. He took the 110 meter hurdles with a time of 15.61 seconds. He will need to crack 15 seconds to place at states but 15.61 is a very good time to have in your first meet.
1600 meter runner, sophomore Tyler Stahl ran a 4:41.91 minute mile to comfortably out-distance the field.
"That's a great time to have in February," said boys coach Kris Keppel.
Senior Kyle Mckee won the 300 meter hurldes in 42.75 seconds and sophomore Shahob Miltenberger won the triple jump at 34 feet 7 inches.