With rain pouring down on participants in last Friday's Class 3A state track and field championships at the University of North Florida's Hodges Stadium, some stepped up to the occasion. In essence, a perfect storm helped some Pasco County competitors medal.
Mitchell's Claudia Cancello performed well in the weather conditions, surprising many by placing second in the 3,200 meters (11:16.25) to take home a silver medal, despite being seeded outside of the top-10 runners competing.
“One of the things we did was keep the kids out of the rain and brought them over to the hotel between events,” Mitchell coach Jeff Leavy said. “Claudia was well rested heading into her race. She ran that whole thing leveled. It's what she did heading into her race that really helped her. She was running her pace like a metronome. She seized the day. It was just unbelievable.”
Claudia’s sister, Elaina, had her own things to overcome this track season. She was diagnosed with iron-deficiency anemia earlier in the season. Elaina continued to run during the season, but went on a high-iron diet and was prescribed iron supplements.
With Elaina's iron building back up and her continued training, the sophomore helped Mitchell's 4x800 relay squad to an eighth-place finish (10:01.43) and a spot on the podium. The touching finish would cap the last race the Cancello sisters would run for the Mustangs together.
Others from within the county finishing in the top 10 were River Ridge's Evan Bales, who had a second-place finish in the pole vault at 14 feet and teammate Devon Jerothe, who finished fourth (13-feet, six inches).
Other boys athletes that medaled were Land O' Lakes' Tyler Stahl, who took seventh in the 1,600, and Wiregrass Ranch's Elijah Boston (eighth in the discus throw). Land O' Lakes junior Hallie Grimes finished third (57.59) in the 400. Other girls that placed were Wiregrass Ranch's Casey Chitty (sixth in the pole vault) and River Ridge's Brittany O'Leary (sixth in the shot put).