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With brand new, exciting academic challenges lying ahead of her, Lely senior Rosie Poling’s competitive running days could soon be coming to an end.

Headed to Harvard University in the fall, Poling plans to immerse herself in the books and all the wonderful experiences college has to offer.

But first, she’s got a little business to take care of in her final go-round on the Lely track team.

Poling won both the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter races Thursday at the Class 2A-District 12 track meet, keeping her hopes of a state medal alive. She’ll next compete at the regional event April 27 in Tampa.

Poling was challenged by freshman teammate Ryenn Hart in both the 1,600 and 3,200 before pulling away late. Hart did score a victory in the 800 to go along with her two runner-up finishes.

“I’ve been so thankful to have her on the team this year,” Poling said. “She really pushes me and is such a nice person to be around. My hamstring had been hurting me, so my goal (in the 1,600) was to start the race and just try to qualify, and get as many points for the team in the process. But I started running and I was feeling really good, so I just kept the pace and felt strong down the stretch.”

Poling doesn’t plan to run for Harvard’s track or cross country teams, although she may participate on the school’s club team if she has time.

“I’m always going to keep running, because it’s something I love to do,” she said. “But there’s going to be a lot of great opportunities in college and running Division I, that’s a lot of travel, a lot of time, it’s almost like a job. There’s so many other things I want to see and do while I’m there. Club running would give me that competition that I love, but I’d have more time to do other things and focus on academics.”

Lely’s other individual winners were Laura Liberiste (discus) and Emily Hamilton (pole vault). Liberiste also finished third in the shot put.

On the boys side, Josh Wagner (1,600), Isaac Mendez (pole vault) and Anthony Hightower (triple jump) were individual winners. Wagner also took second in the 800, getting edged out by Immokalee’s Mackenson Yrelus late in the race. He also ran a leg on Lely’s third-place 4x400 relay team.

“Today, it was all about the team and scoring points,” Wagner said. “In the 1,600, it was all about staying fresh (for the 800. I knew Immokalee had a great 800 runner, so I knew I had to stay fresh so I wouldn’t get blown out of the water.”

Lely finished second in both the boys and girls races to Dunbar, as the two teams flipped spots from a year ago.

“We knew it was going to be ourselves and Lely again,” Dunbar coach Guy Thomas said. “It was going to be a catfight to the end with their distance against our sprints. We had to try to compensate for their distance events through our sprints and our field events. We also got a little help from Immokalee, who with their good distance runners, diluted Lely’s advantage there.”

Class 2A-District 12 track

Thursday

Lely regional qualifiers (top four finishers)

Pole vault: 1. Isaac Mendez, 2.92, 2. Kole Bartos, 2.74, 3. Ediberto Reyes, 2.62, 4. Samuel Fernandez, 2.44

Long jump: 2. Marc Noel, 6.50

Triple jump: 1. Anthony Hightower, 13.52, 2. Marc Noel, 13.31

Discus: 2. Chris Racine, 35.61

Shot put: 3. Chris Racine, 13.31

400: 2. Elijah Wright, 50.26,

4x400 relay: 3. Lely 3:30.94

4x800 relay: 3. Lely 8:41.74

800: 2. Josh Wagner, 2:03.24,

1600: 1. Josh Wagner, 4:42.17, 4. Anthony Alvarez, 4:50.42

3200: 2. Garrett Southerland, 10:35.42, 3. Anthony Alvarez, 10:46.57

GIRLS

High jump: 3. Irmice Cherlus, 1.40,

Pole vault: 1. Emily Hamilton, 2.32, 3. Isabel Janscok, 1.83, 3. Maura Perez, 1.83

Long jump: 4. Chelsie Daniel, 4.90

Triple jump: 4. Mica Auguste, 10.36

Discus: 1. Laura Liberiste, 34.95

Shot put: 3. Laura Liberiste, 9.36,

4x400 relay: 4. Lely 4:34.10

4x800 relay: 3. Lely 10:53.96

800: 1. Ryenn Hart, 2:34.09

1600: 1. Rosie Poling, 5:37.46, 2. Ryenn Hart, 5:42.35, 3. Bailey Greaves, 6:06.70

3200: 1. Rosie Poling, 12:32.44, 2. Ryenn Hart, 12:47.66, 3. Sara Leaman, 13:48.78

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