St. Cloud girls put OBC track title away
St. Cloud’s Karissa Solorzano won three OBC championships.
By Rick Pedone
St. Cloud’s girls regained the Orange Belt Conference championship in dominating fashion Tuesday at their home Gannarelli Field track.
The Lady Bulldogs (216) rolled past Osceola (127), Gateway (111), Celebration (79), Harmony (62), Celebration (62), Liberty (42) and Poinciana (11).
The meet was decided before the running finals.
St. Cloud’s girls were 45 points ahead of defending champion Osceola after the field events, thanks in large part to junior Yairaliz Hernandez, who won both the shot put (32-2) and discus (101-4) championships. Brittany Bakken (94-3) gave St. Cloud eight more points in the discus by placing second.
Kirsten Chambers was the runner-up in the high jump (5-2) and finished third in both the long jump (16-7) and triple jump (33-07).
St. Cloud’s Kianna Ruff (8-0) won the pole vault to add 10 more points.
The Lady Bulldogs 4×800 relay (10:22.51) helped the team get off to a quick start by winning easily over Osceola (10:28.71).
Karissa Solorzano led the Lady Dogs outstanding distance team by winning the 1600 (5:34.21) and the 3,200 (12:42.40). St. Cloud took four of the top five spots in the 1,600 and the top four places in the 3,200. Grace Miller (12:08), Bernise Vega (14:05) and Sarah Bridges (14:10) followed Solorzano in the 3,200.
Freshman Jessica Martin (1:03.61) won the 400 over Osceola’s Lauren Butler (1:05.31). Octavia Gonzalez (2:30.70) won the 800 and Talyssa Gatlin, another freshmen, gave the Lady Dogs a boost by winning the 200 (26.45).
St. Cloud Coach Kevin Harkema expected success.
“I knew we would do it. Not to sound overconfident, but I thought we would win a couple of other events,” Harkema said. “My seniors are great. They get in their groups and do a good job of getting everyone ready before each meet. It’s a great group of kids. Just about everybody shows up for every practice; they’ve bought into it.”
Solorzano said the team was confident before the meet.
“We thought we would do well; we usually do well in the distance events,” she said. “This is a good team. As a senior, I feel like I should be a leader, but I’m not the type who is going to do that by yelling. I try to lead by example. I treat people the way I’d want to be treated.”
Osceola’s Shantavia Huggins (17-1) won the long jump and her teammate, Thalya Williams (34-3), won the triple jump, but OHS Coach Eric Pinellas knew that St. Cloud was too good.
“It’s not that we did bad. They just had so much depth. Good for them, they had a great meet,” Pinellas said. “We’re just so young. I look at my team, and all I see is freshmen and sophomores. We’re getting better.”
One of those sophomores, Cayla Williams (12.84) won the 100 and she ran on the team’s 4×100 champion (50.70). The Lady Kowboys also won the 4×400 (4:12.86).
Gateway’s Daja Clayton won the 100 (15.58) and 300 (48.98) titles.
Celebration’s girls scored a first-place finish with Diana Gatlin, who won the high jump (5-2) by a tiebreaker.