The 2016-2017 school year has provided some great highlights in both cross country and track across the Sunshine State. In the coming weeks many of our seniors will head out to start their college careers both athletically and academically. We wanted to salute them one more time in this special feature and say thank you for your support over the years.
What was your most memorable race/moment?
My most memorable moment occurred back in the regional finals of my freshman year. I had disqualified myself from the 400m dash earlier in the night by jumping the gun on accident, and I was severely disappointed in myself. The next race I had was the 4x400m relay, the final event of the night, and I was ready to give it everything I had. We we're in fifth by the time I received the baton, and we had to get fourth to qualify for the state finals. So I ran the fastest 400m I ever had at the time and ended up getting my team the fourth spot, something I never even thought possible at the beginning of the season.
Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?
My biggest competition over my four years included a wide range of people, but most notably George Williams a 1A 400m Champion, and John Zolonowski a member of the 2016 4x400m 1A State Champion team, who competed with me in the 100 and 200m dash.
What was your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment thus far was medaling in the 200m and 4x400m races in the 2016 FHSAA 1A State Finals.
If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running career in high school?
I would definitely take the training techniques and workouts that we've worked on for my senior year and use them from the start of my freshman year. I've always had a hard time establishing myself in the first 10-15 meters of my race, and that's what we fixed this year. I'd also implement weight training in my freshman and sophomore years, which at the time my school didn't have the resources to provide.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
The most difficult obstacle I had to overcome was the entirety of my sophomore year, in which I tore my hamstring during the first race of the season. So I spent a large portion of my season actively recovering from that and dealing with discomfort in meets. At the end of the season I practically clawed my way for a qualifying spot for states in the 400m dash, and ended up medaling.
What will you miss the most?
I'll definitely miss the people more than anything, I've had some great role models to follow, and they've really shaped the person I am today.
What advice you would give to younger athletes?
The one thing I can't stress enough is dedication and commitment. No one starts out on top in track and field, but the only way to get there is to work hard everyday and come to every practice.
What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?
Randy Morales is a man of heart and dedication. He's had so much patience with me from the start, and has spent countless hours shaping me into the athlete I am today. Coach Morales really does his research on the best training methods and techniques and uniquely applies them to each of his athletes. Our school doesn't have the luxury of a real weight room, or even a track for that matter, but Coach does a fantastic job of utilizing what we have. I think there's really something to say for a man who can produce a division 1 athlete with a field and a parking lot.
What are your college plans?
I've decided to commit to the United States Naval Academy, which is one of America's top educational and military training institutions. I was recruited by their head coach, Chris Campbell, to run track at the academy. It's a pretty big deal, considering I'll be the first athlete from my school to be recruited into a division 1 program.
Who would you like to say thank you to? Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I'd like to thank all the people that have guided me over my high-school career, including Brent Mclaughlin, my cross-country coach who gave me the foundation of winning mentality, as well as his son who was my first big role model in sports, Josiah Mclaughlin. I'd also like to thank John Pegg, my ex-stepfather, who's really taught me a lot about life and how not to mess it up. And finally, I'd like to thank my Mom, Andrea Gill, who's always been supportive of my athletics, and has always provided me with anything I needed.