As the outdoor season is approaching many people may be wondering where this year's seniors are going to spend the next four years for their athletic careers. Track and field has two official signing periods, one in November and the other in April. April being in the middle of high school track season it can be a little stressful to be worrying about scholarships and signing to the school of your choice. In South Florida a few of the nation's top track athletes got to sign early in the November period to some of the best schools in the country.
Rasheed Tatham (STA) -- Mississippi State University
Erin Ford (Royal Palm Beach HS) -- University of Miami
Diamond Spaulding (STA) -- Texas A&M
Isaiah Taylor (West Broward HS) -- University of Miami
Ari Cogdell (American HS) -- University of Tennessee
Krystal Sparling (STA) -- Texas A&M University
Camora Sanders (Northeast HS) -- Virginia Commonwealth
Margret Schloss (STA) -- University of Florida
Nick Diaz (Miami Sunset HS) -- University of Florida
Denise Spann (Boyd Anderson) -- Michigan State University
I got the chance to talk to Isaiah Taylor, Ari Cogdell and Krystal Sparling about their early signing experiences, 2015 goals and favorite moments from the years. After we got the ball rolling in the interview I asked what was one accomplishment that they were proud of.
Ari Cogdell: "I've been running since the second grade. I'm glad I got a full scholarship to an SEC school. Another accomplishment would be when we broke the record at the Golden South Classic in the 4x400m. Now we're going for the state record."
Krystal Sparling: "Looking back from middle school, I would've never thought I would be as fast as I am now. To this day I'm still amazed I have a full scholarship to an awesome school. Looking back from the girl I was at William Dandy I would have never thought I'd be this good. So, I'm proud of myself."
Ari, Isaiah and Krystal are no doubt some of the fastest kids in the nation; this means they have some very high aspirations for their last high school seasons. Isaiah wants to run 10.2 and 21's in the 200m. Ari's goals are to try and run 45 in the 400m, run 3:10 in the 4x400m and win a state championship which would be the first in American HS history.
"I want to stay healthy throughout the entire season. My goals are to run 11.1 and run 22 low, if I can stay healthy and perfect all my imperfections than I should be good," explains Krystal. "Leaving my family and working on a support system as well as finding out what type of training I was going to get at one school oppose to another," Isaiah explains when talking about the hardest thing about the early recruiting process. For Krystal the hardest thing was being forced to do a lot of things in only about three to four months, but she said she enjoyed the whole thing.
Next, I asked the group, what was one fun thing about you visits that made you interested in the school,
Ari: At Tennessee their facilities are the best in the country, and it really amazed me."
Krystal: "What stood out to me was the cafeteria for the athletes; it was so impressive I didn't see anything like that at any other schools. They have their own school spirit, it was kind of different, but I liked it."
Being a senior with a main goal of signing to a university, going through the recruiting process can be very stressful, and taking all that stress into track season can make things 10 times more stressful. I asked if not having the pressure of signing during season makes things easier.
Isaiah: "Not necessarily. I still have a mindset goal to run 10.2 possibly 10.1. I don't want to give UM the same athlete they recruited; I want to give them a better one."
Krystal: "It's going to be a great stress reliever. I don't think I could have waited so when I signed early, the phone calls stopped and everything stopped, it was peaceful."
"A really strong base as far as a team, who wants to get better and wants to build a team, but also kind of build a legacy. That's going to be a perfect fit because UM is building a track that I get to be a part of and I appreciate it," Isaiah explained when speaking about his deciding factor for picking Miami. Ari added, "How the coaches have a relationship with the team, team chemistry can go a long way in how the team is together." Isaiah, Ari, and Krystal are going to different parts of the country and will be a part of the SEC and ACC conferences. These conferences have heavy competition across the board, and as Freshman I asked them how they think they'll fit in their programs competition. "SEC is full of competition and with the help of my coaches and my teammates pushing me I think I could do really well in the events that I'm in." Krystal said. Ari explained that the SEC has a lot of competition in the 400m especially, but everyone has their turn, so when his time comes he wants to benefit for his team and do well.
The 2015 track season isn't as far away as we think, I asked the group what meets they were looking forward to competing in, and of course all of them said the state meet. Isaiah said he was looking forward Louie Bing (February 20-21) and the Disney Invitational (March 14). Ari has a lot of meets he's looking forward to like New Balance Outdoors (June), USA Juniors, Texas Relays (March 25-28) and Florida Relays (April 2-4). Krystal is looking forward to the BCAA County Meet (March 21) and Texas Relays as well.
Make sure you keep a look out not only for these three athletes, but all South Florida athletes who signed early as they continue to make their marks this season. South Florida's Class of 2015 will surely be a class of athletes that are going out and breaking records and making history. Be on the lookout for more Around the Track!
*** This was actually supposed to be a video interview, but the Florida winds ruined the sound, but don't worry I've invested in a microphone for future video interviews. Be on the look out for a continued conversation with more of South Florida's top high school athletes who are still looking to sign in the upcoming April 15th signing period.