As FPC’s Ra Blanding streaked down the final straightaway as the anchor of the boys’ 4x100 relay team, Bulldogs coach Dave Halliday enjoyed a good vantage point on the infield.
And when Blanding crossed the line with a time of 41.77, good for second place and another event in which the Bulldogs qualified for states, Halliday — with a huge grin plastered across his face — turned to a nearby assistant and uttered four words.
“The speed is back.”
FPC’s sprinters made a huge impact on Thursday’s 4A-1 regional meet in Palm Coast, as the Bulldogs boys finished second in the 31-team field. The girls finished 13th, but qualified for states in two events.
“We haven’t had really, really fast sprinters since about 2011,” Halliday said. “As far as 100-meter speed, 200-meter speed, relays and all that stuff. Some of that stuff goes in cycles, and you just have to get the kids to work hard and buy in.”
FPC's Tim Patrick finished second in the pole vault with a height of 13.06 feet, and junior Jimmie Robinson blazed a 10.79 to finish second in the 100-meter dash. The boys' 4x100 relay team finished second with a mark of 41.77, the 4x400 group finished third with a time of 3:21.96, and the 4x800 team finished fourth with a time of 8:03.30.
The boys’ 4x100 quartet received a boost this year with the arrival of freshman Queshaun Boyd, who ran the first leg of the event.
“I was playing football with these guys, so they knew that I was fast already,” Boyd said. “When I first got here they gave me a tryout, and when they saw I did good through the season, I got my spot.”
The man Boyd hands the baton to — Marcel Williams — had trouble seeing out of his zone during the prelims, but made an adjustment by shifting a bit to the right prior to running in the finals. The issue was that a competitor was parked a bit on the line. For Williams, the key is ignoring the other faces and bodies on the track.
“We go out and compete versus the times,” he said. “We try and beat the school record (41.6), and go out against times. Not worried about everybody else, just time.”
When Tierra Williams learned her girls’ 4x100 squad had finished fourth with a time of 48.48 — good for a state berth — she broke out into tears.
“Coming out, I was nervous,” Williams said. “When I saw that we finished and we made it to states, I just started crying, because that’s what we wanted.”
Sarah Dilloreto ran the final leg, and besides holding off runners in adjacent lanes, she fought a nagging headwind.
“Let me tell you, that wind was something,” she joked with her teammates after the race. “I was thinking, ‘just lift my knees, just lift my knees.’”
The 2A state meet will be held on Fri., May 2, at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.
Halliday likes the Bulldogs’ chances.
“I think we’re going to place, they’ll be all-state, and then most of them come back next year,” he said.
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