ST. PETERSBURG -- Jamie Moore had a feeling this would be a special spring.
Thursday evening, he had his proof.
Saint Stephen's girls track and field team had a historic day during the Class 1A-Region 3 meet at St. Petersburg Shorecrest, totaling 53 points to finish third.
"This is the best we've ever done," said Moore, the team's coach. "We knew the girls team had a lot of talent coming back. The only real difference between this year and last year is our sophomores have matured."
That group was crucial Thursday. Janae Murrell took fourth in the 200-meter dash (27.09) to earn a state bid, which was awarded to the top four finishers in each event.
Murrell also ran a leg on the Falcons' first-place 1,600 relay team (4:10.78) and its second place 400 team (51.48).
Another boost came courtesy of another sophomore, Jane Lindsay, who missed all of last track season recovering from a concussion she sustained playing basketball. Lindsay had a big day Thursday, taking third in the triple jump (33 feet, 111/4 inches) and fourth in the 400 (1:00.87).
She also joined Murrell, Hannah Howell and Lauren Csubak on the championship relay squad.
The Falcons will have their own track to work with next spring courtesy of a massive overhaul of the school's athletic complex that will include a lighted football stadium lined with turf. This season, however, practicing for the triple jump took some imagination -- Lindsay worked out at Manatee on occasion and used some of the Falcons' meets to hone the skill.
"Most of her practice was actually at events. It was learning as she went," Moore
said. "We do what's called a pop-up drill, which is one of our running technique drills. And we saw that she had a little more ups than anybody else we've had in a long time."
Jane's twin sister, Paige, joined Murrell, Alexis Sedillo and Gabrielle Woodruff on the 400 relay team.
Csubak placed second in the 800 (2:20.75) and Howell, the group's senior, was third in the 300 hurdles (47.89) and clinched the title in the 1,600 by running anchor.
Howell is off to Georgetown in the fall to play soccer, but her commitment to track never waned.
"She still comes out and runs her heart out," Moore said, "and provides really good leadership."
Cardinal Mooney's Grace Casagrande was the area's other first-place finisher in the running events, as she won the 800 (2:19.08).
Out-of-Door Academy, sixth with 36 1/2 points, did well in the field events. Ashtin Frank won the pole vault (9 feet) and Catherine Williams took first in the triple jump (34-07.75).
Madison Shaw also qualified for the Thunder by placing second in the 100 hurdles (16.57).
On the boys side, ODA's Tre Gregory was third in the pole vault (12-6) and Cardinal Mooney's Demardre Patterson was third in the 200 (22.6).
The Class 1A state track and field meet is scheduled for Friday, April 26 at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.