Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Mustang Girls Win State Title | Manatee Boys Win Gold in 4X100 Relay

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Mustang Girls Win State Title | Manatee Boys Win Gold in 4X100 Relay

Article excerpt

TRACK AND FIELD STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS

BRADENTON -- From the moment he took over the program, Lakewood Ranch High track and field coach Mark Napier talked about his desire to field a versatile team.

The Mustangs were known for their strong distance runners, and that was fine. But Napier, who came up through the college ranks, wanted Lakewood Ranch to be good at everything, be it a dash or the discus.

During this year's state track and field met that took place a handful of miles from the Mustangs' home stadium, Napier got what he wanted.

Lakewood Ranch's girls won

the Class 4A team title Saturday night at IMG Academy, tallying 68 points to defeat runner-up Miami Southridge (62).

It's the first team track title in school history and makes the Mustangs Manatee County's first girls team to win a track championship since Palmetto (Class 2A) in 1990.

"It's hard to be a pocket team and just develop one certain area of a team," Napier said. "I think by taking that more holistic approach, you create more of a bonding team atmosphere. Track and field is not necessarily classified as a team sport -- it's more of an individual sport. But if you do it right, it becomes a team sport.

"They were prepared. We knew had a chance to have an opportunity at winning."

Anchoring the Mustangs' title run was junior Sophia Falco, who followed up Friday's first-place finish in the long jump by winning three more medals Saturday. She finished second in the triple jump (40 feet, 2 1/2 inches) and the 100-meter dash (12.09), and fifth in the 200 (25.13), accounting for 30 points.

"Everyone does their best, we all get what we put into the season," Falco said. "Coming here and winning, it's a great feeling. We're definitely a family, we work together all the time, we practice together, we're really good competitors."

Reide Ryans, who won a state championship Friday in the high jump, finished sixth in the 100-meter hurdles Saturday. Kristine Akervold took fourth in the same event.

Olivia Ogles and Cree Lotterer earned points for the Mustangs on Friday during the pole vault.

Ranch's run to the top of the team medal podium highlighted a successful day for area athletes. …

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