All the factors were in place for Gulf Coast distance sprinter Caroline Barlow to have a good day during the 3A state track and field championships in Jacksonville on Friday.
The weather was perfect, her father — and assistant coach — Paul, was on the sidelines to cheer her on, and with a field of heavy favorites competing alongside her, the pressure was minimal.
"There were several girls who were kind of expected to take the lead, so it did take some of the pressure off me and let me go out and just run my race," Barlow said.
"The expectations going in were for her to do her best and whatever happens, happens," Sharks head coach Joe Manento said.
Caroline, a sophomore, responded with the best race of her young career.
Barlow ran a personal-best 10:51.22 — a school record — in the girls 3,200-meters to finish fourth overall in the event.
"She was really focused," Manento said. "She knew what time she need to get, and everything just fell into place for her."
Barlow also finished fifth overall in the 1,600 with a time of 5:00.36 to give her nine points overall for the event, which was the highest total of any of the local entrants.
"It went way better than I thought it was going to," Barlow admitted.
"I am really proud of her and the whole team was happy to see her do well," Manento added. "She's a very smart girl and she works really hard. She has all the qualities you'd expect from a top performer."
Danielle Avery, Naples track — Took third in the 800-meter final at the Class 3A state finals.
Jessica Montalvo, Palmetto Ridge track — Was fifth in the state in the 300-meter hurdles at the 3A state meet.
Brooke Saurbier, Barron Collier track — Finished runner-up in the state in pole vault for the third straight year.
Kacy Smith, Estero track — Placed fourth in the 1,600 meters at the Class 3A state finals and was on the second-place 4x800 relay team.