The 2017 Flo Golden South field is shaping up to be one of the best in the meet's 41 years in Central Florida. Athletes and teams from around the Sunshine State and southeast United States will head to the National Training Center in Clermont, Florida. Winners of the girls and boys 100m dash as well as the girls 100m hurdles and boys 110m hurdlers will win an all expense paid trip to Seattle, Washington for the Brooks PR Invitational. We preview the classic division boys events and who has the best chance winning.
Boys Brooks PR Qualifiers Preview
The first boys Brooks PR qualifier of the meet will be the 110m hurdles. LSU signee Damion Thomas is the 2015 and 2016 meet champion and currently ranked third in the nation with a season best of 13.42s. Thomas also won the 110m hurdles at state the past two seasons and was the 2015 Brooks PR Invitational champion and 2016 Carifta Games gold medalist. His 13.80 from the 2015 Golden South Classic is the second fastest in the last decade behind only Roy Smith who ran 13.69. After Flo Golden South, Thomas has plans of running at the Jamaican Junior Nationals then Pan Am U20 in Peru before heading to college in Baton Rouge.
Others to watch include Kameron Davis of Southridge who was third at the 4A state meet, 4A state finalist Adrian Winfrey of South Dade, and Northside Christian's Tyler Rhodes the class 1A runner-up.
Boys 100m Dash
Of all the sprint/hurdle races on the boys side this is the one I am looking forward to the most. The battle at the front of this race will between two friends, club teammates, and state champions. 3A champion Chauncy Smart beat out Tyrese Cooper for the top prize in Bradenton while Lavonte Valentine followed up with a win in the 4A race. Both athletes train with Gary Evans and the Empire Athletics group in Clermont and have been talking trash about who will win for the past few weeks. Smart's owns the faster season best of 10.4 while Valentine is right on his tail at 10.44. Miramar's Taylor Banks doesn't get the limelight of some of his teammates like Jamal Walton or Terrence Horne Jr. or other South Florida sprinters, but his coach says he is one of the most hard working athletes and nobody wants a ticket to Seattle more. He's run a windy 10.34, but he trains with the best daily, so competition doesn't scare him.
Others to watch for include the Braddock duo of Steven Stallings and Jason Reese, Riverview's Lateef Birks Jr. who had an excellent week of practice leading up to the meet, and Palatka's Steven Simmons. Over a dozen guys in the field have gone 10.7 or under so this race will be FAST.