Considering this was the last race of his high school career, Tampa Prep's Stephen Warner decided to go for the win. So with about 250 meters to go in his 800-meter race at the Class 1A state meet, he bolted to the lead.
"I figured I had to try that," Warner said. "Those guys have a lot of speed and I didn't want it to come down to the last 20 meters."
Unfortunately for Warner, the gamble didn't pay off. The chase pack caught him before coming off the final turn and overtook him down the homestretch at Showalter Field. Warner managed to hold off two of the other eight finalists to earn his first individual medal at sixth place, but it wasn't quite the finish he had envisioned.
"I wanted the win and I went for it," Warner said. "I probably went too early and sort of crashed there at the end. But whatever, I went for it."
It was Warner's fourth straight appearance at the 1A finals. As part of Terrapins' 4x800 relay teams, he took home a fifth-place medal as a freshman and silver the next year. Last season, he made it to state in the 1,600 and 800, but a bout with a flu set his training back. He didn't run the 1,600 and took 10th in the 800. Warner was coming off another bug this year, but not as severe.
Warner said he's unsure if he will continue running in college. He's deciding among Emory, Virginia and the Naval Academy.
Hillsborough County's other 1A finalists were Carrollwood Day School senior Darius Bing and Tampa Prep freshman Carly Reiner. Bing finished 12th in a talented boys long jump field at 20 feet, 11.5 inches. Reiner faced similar stiff competition in the girls triple jump and 100, where she took 11th (in a lifetime best of 32-10.75) and tied for 12th in 13.39.