JACKSONVILLE — Michael Taylor lunged to the finish line in the 300-meter hurdles, leaning so far forward on his final stride that he won the race by inches and then tumbled to the track.
The First Academy senior bounced back to his feet with a skinned-up right elbow and a pump of his fist.
Taylor's all-out effort exemplified a string of peak performances by the Royals in Friday's Class 1A state track and field championships at the University of North Florida. But sometimes even your best isn't quite enough.
First Academy cashed in almost every point available to it on UNF's rain-soaked Hodges Stadium track, but the Royals still were outscored by Fort Lauderdale Westminster, 96.5 to 90, in the race for the boys team title.
The Royals had six event winners to Westminster's one, but the Lions piled up points with depth and relegated First Academy to its second consecutive runner-up finish.
"I know my kids are probably upset, but I'm happy with our performance," First Academy coach Ricky Argro said. "This was the best meet we had all year, and we did it at the right time."
Taylor, whose 39.74-second time in the 300 hurdles was a career best, also won the 110 high-hurdles title. Teammate Michael Timpson Jr. led a spree of sprint scores for the Royals, shot putter Chris Miller prevailed, pole vaulter Armand Woodley took second, and the Royals ran away with two relay titles.
Other area winners were double distance king Franco Martins of Windermere Prep, boys discus champ A.J. McFarland of Daytona Beach Father Lopez, and First Academy junior Teahna Daniels, who swept the girls dashes.
Daniels, sporting new red braces, proudly showed them off after running a career-best 23.68 to win the 200 and cruising to victory in the 100 at 11.74.
Timpson, son of state-meet legend Michael Timpson Sr., won the 100 with teammate Jahquez Durham right behind him. The First Academy duo placed second and fourth, respectively, in the 200.
The Royals repeated as champions in the 4 x 100 relay with Timpson, Durham, Mason Plante and Theodore Washington clocking a time of 42.61. That was slower than the foursome's season best of 41.49, but Argro's instructions were to play it safe and make sure to get the stick around the track on a day where every point was precious.
First Academy finished the meet with a first-place finish ahead of Westminster in the 4 x 400. Timpson, Durham, Plante and Julian Middleton ran 3:19.69.
Miller, a 6-4, 315-pound FIU football signee, delivered a career-best shot toss of 53 feet, 9½ inches to score an upset victory in one of Westminster's best events.
Martins, a junior who has blossomed as a runner since giving up other sports like soccer and tennis, won the boys 1,600 in 4:22.33 and the 3,200 in 9:26.01. He is the first state track champion in Lakers history.
McFarland switched from his regular throwing shoes to running shoes to get better footing inside the puddled discus ring. The 6-5, 280-pound UF signee dominated with four throws of more than 160 feet and a best of 167-9. He has improved his tosses by 30 feet in a year.
Morning rain started falling in the first hour of the meet. Officials scratched all prelim races and altered the format to a rolling schedule that converted the afternoon prelim races into finals based on time.
It was the same move as made for the 2013 Class 4A championships, also soaked by day-long rainstorms. Both the 3A and 4A meets were completed last year, but in very difficult conditions.
Morning rain is expected for this year's big-school meets on Saturday at UNF. But the forecast projects a much nicer afternoon and the 3A and 4A events are expected to be contested with prelims as scheduled.
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