JACKSONVILLE -- Manatee's Derrick Calloway capped a successful two-year shot put career by defending his state title at Saturday's rain-soaked Class 4A state track meet at the University of North Florida.
Coupled with sprinter Brandon Carnes' three third-place medals, Calloway's title helped propel the Hurricanes to fifth place in the boys team standings, the highest finish in head coach Mike Smith's 12 years.
Calloway's effort of 58 feet, 5 inches was more than a foot beyond that of rival Kevin Delgado of Miami Coral Park. Delgado finished second to Calloway last year, too.
"I was pleased with what I did today," said Calloway, a standout defensive lineman who has signed to play football at USF. "I could have done better and hit my goal. But on my last throw when it went 60 or 61 feet, my foot came over the board and scraped it on the other side so they ruled it a scratch.
"But that's OK. I had a good time here today, even with the bad weather. It made it tough getting a good hold on the shot."
Calloway and all other athletes faced adverse weather conditions, which prompted race officials to change the format and go to "timed preliminaries." That meant instead of athletes posting a good time in the prelims to qualify for the finals, normally held in the evening, they had just one opportunity to post as good a time as they could. If there were two heats in a race, officials determined the winner of the event by the fastest time.
Calloway didn't have to worry about such a format as the shot put competition went on as normal. All he had to worry about was making the sure the shot didn't slip out of his hand.
Calloway improved his winning effort from last year by more than three feet, when he edged Coral Park's Kevin Delgado, just as he did this year. Calloway has only competed in the shot for two years, having started a year ago "just for fun."
"Delgado was ahead of him all year," Smith said of Calloway. "When it counted, Derrick stepped up and came through. We're very proud of Derrick and appreciative of what he has done for Manatee track."
Calloway just smiled and shrugged his shoulders when asked how good he could have been had he been throwing the shot throughout his four years in high school.
"It does cross my mind, but I did pretty good even with only two years of throwing," he said. "It's just some natural, God-given talent that I'm fortunate to have. I don't go to too many practices. I just throw to have fun."
Saturday's competition might have been Calloway's last. He leaves the sport knowing that he set school records each of the past two years.
"I thought about maybe throwing at South Florida, but I'm going to concentrate on just football in college," he added.
Carnes also concluded his high school career with a solid effort. The senior sprinter took third in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes and anchored the Hurricanes' 400 relay unit to a third-place finish. Those 18 points, combined with Calloway's 10 first-place points, gave Manatee 28 points in the meet, good for fifth place in the final team standings.
Carnes was joined by Daren Ardis, Daren Muller and Ja Juan Pollock on the relay unit.
Smith said Carnes held a lead in the 100, his best event, until the final 15 meters, where he may be slipped. He missed out on a state title by one-hundredth of a second. His time of 10.82 was just behind that of champion Amir Rasul (10.81) of Miami Columbus and runner-up John Franklin of South Plantation (10.82).
"It think it played somewhat of a role," Smith said of the conditions. "It hasn't stopped raining since we've been here. It's just unfortunate."
Smith said Carnes' best race came in the 400 relay, when he passed several runners as the anchor.
Manatee might have scored more points except for Darryl Brookins' mishap in the 300 hurdles. Running in the first of two heats, Brookins was leading the race when he stumbled over the second-to-last hurdle and did not score any points.
It was the second day in a row the weather conditions were deplorable. Preliminary running events were scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. but were delayed as the jury of appeals convened to decide if or when the meet would begin. With heavier rain expected to hit the Jacksonville area in the early evening (it did), the committee elected to go to the timed preliminaries.
The pole vault competition was delayed for more than an hour because of the wind and rain.
Prior to the pole vault being delayed, an unidentified coach slipped and fell in the steeplechase water pit. Paramedics were summoned and arrived with a gurney to the area, but he did not require assistance.
When the high jump competition opened, one of the girls competitors fell in a small puddle of water on the hard surface during her warm-up run-through. High jump officials were constantly pushing water off the surface with big brooms.
Throws in the shot put and discus competition stuck in the water-soaked grounds, where they made accurate measurements a challenge.