Golden Eagles runner Danielle Avery capped off her career at Naples in grand fashion, earning a second-place finish Friday in the 800 at the 3A state championship meet in Jacksonville. It was the fifth state medal of her high school career.
“I didn’t think I’d be where I am at my freshman year,” said Avery, who only took up distance running at the urging of her coach. “I’ve surprised myself over the years.”
Her coach Mary Beth Watkins said it was an aggressive and gutsy performance by the LSU commit.
With the wind howling and conditions less than ideal, Avery took the lead after the first lap of the race and set the pace until the final 150 meters, when she slipped into third. With one final kick, Avery battled her way back into the front of the pack where she finished just one second back of the winner, Lakewood Ranch’s Kristin Zarella, with a time of 2:17.79.
“I was a little nervous about the weather conditions but I knew everyone was going to have to run in it,” Avery said.
It was her best finish on what was a very busy day for Avery.
Danielle also ran the anchor leg for both the 4x800- and 4x400-meter relay events.
The 4x800 team, which also consisted of Kaitlyn Novak, Becca Rutila and Hannah Klopf, finished in sixth place thanks to a strong finish by Avery. With her team in third place in its respective heat Avery took the baton and rather than holding back and saving her energy for her individual event later in the day, she went after the leader, passed her and pushed on for time. Avery also ran the fastest leg to lead her team to a 12th place finish in the 4x400 event.
“Whe you run that hard in a race early, you don’t know if that is going to affect her,” Watkins said. “She wouldn’t have held back if I told her to.”
Caroline Barlow, Gulf Coast track — At 3A state finals, took third in the 3,200 and fourth in the 1,600.
Sam Jaffe, Barron Collier lacrosse — Scored three goals in Cougars’ state quarterfinals game.
Haley Pinterich, Naples softball — Threw a complete-game victory and had four RBIs in regional semifinals.
Katy G. Solis, Estero track — Won 3A state championship in 4x800 relay, took fifth in 3,200.