By Kyle LoJacono
Wesley Chapel girls track and field athletes Ravin Gilbert and Courtney Prengaman tasted nothing but championships at the Class 2A-District 9 meet at Berkeley Prep on April 13.
Gilbert won the 100-, 200- and 400-meters, while Prengaman captured the high jump crown. The titles earned 40 of the 70 points for the fourth-place Wildcats at the nine-team meet.
Gilbert, a Georgia State University signee, was seeded No. 1 in her three races and didn’t disappoint despite facing a steady wind all day.
“What she did today is a very difficult feat,” said Wesley Chapel girls coach Brian Colding. “She had the 100 and 200 prelims and then the three finals into this headwind. She ran a respectable time under hard circumstances.”
Gilbert first took the 100 by finishing in 12 seconds, winning by nearly 1.5. She followed that with a personal record 59.22 in the 400 and ended the day with a 26.43 in the 200.
The 100 and 400, which she won by 1.4, were won comfortably, but Gilbert bested Anclote’s Nashyia Griffin by only three tenths of a second.
“I knew she was there and she actually screamed at me,” Gilbert said. “I heard her and I was like ‘Oh my gosh she’s right there.’ I thought I had it coming off the curve, but in the last 20 meters she started coming on. I had to push it harder.”
It is the third straight 200 and consecutive 100 district titles for the senior, but she just began running the 400 competitively this season. Gilbert was in fifth during the third curve, but turned on the jets during the final 180 meters.
“I just thought OK, I can run the 400,” Gilbert said. “I felt really good. I’m just going to continue to work in the 400. It’s really helped me with my times in the 100 and 200. … In the 400 I want to see how far I can go and what time I end my season with.”
Gilbert said her biggest goal is placing better than seventh at states in the 100 and 200, which is where she finished in both a year ago.
“I just want to be able to say I gave it my all,” Gilbert said. “I definitely want to go to states but finish higher on the podium.”
Prengaman won the high jump by clearing 5-feet 7-inches, setting a new school record for the fourth time this year. Coming into this season her best was 5-02.
“It’s been a lot of strength training and working at it,” Prengaman said. “Biggest thing is getting past my mental blocks and believing I can do better.”
There was little doubt the junior would come away with the title. Prengaman bested the competition by nine inches, but she kept pushing the bar it improve her seeding and boost her confidence.
Brad Allen, who coaches the Wildcats boys along with the high jumpers and distance runners, said the mental aspect is Prengaman’s biggest hurdle. He had to convince her she could clear 5-06 and 5-07 even though she cleared both on her first attempt.
“The same thing happened when she won conference,” Allen said. “She thought she couldn’t get 5-06, and then she got it easily. When she cleared 5-06 again today she thought that was it. I think she can easily get 5-08.”
Prengaman added, “I’d love to get 5-08. That would be idle. I think that’ll give me a chance to medal at states.”
Wesley Chapel will send pole vaulter Abby Hudak (8), 1,600 runner Alyssa Turner (6:05.42) and the 4×800 relay team (11:06.21) to regionals with their fourth-place performances. The top four in each event qualify.
The boys qualified one athlete, freshman Mailyke Williams after placing fourth in the 110 hurdles (17.39). The squad was ninth as a team, earning 11 points.
Advancing athletes compete at regionals on April 19 at Titusville Astronaut at noon.