There were four glorious meets! What magnificent performances! The more we follow track and field, the better we are able to enjoy such timeless athletic competition. Although the temperature was in the mid 90's the wind never seemed to be a problem for the athletes in division 3A and 4A.
By our reckoning the girls broke seven state records and tied two. The boys broke six state records and tied one. Altogether state records were exceeded or tied in sixteen out of thirty four events. Frankly it was as much of a privilege to watch the Florida state high school competition as any national or world prominent track and field event we have ever personally attended. For several years we have compared the high school best state meet performances with as many state meet statistics as we have been able to obtain from our fellow track fans around the country. In the past it has always been Texas boys and California girls with Florida coming in third or fourth place. This year Florida should hopefully move up in the ratings in many events.
Who would expect that in the weights a 61-7.50 put by Beau Burroughs (Jesuit) would lose to a 64-7 put by Ricky Jean-Francois (Miami Carol City) which would be bested by Charlotte's Westley Stockbarger's 65-8.25 state record! In the discus Stockbarger broke his own state record with a heave of 203-6. We understand that Stockbarger is headed to the University of Florida where we hope they won't have him train for the 4 x 400 relay team.
In the sprints Xavier Carter left us with a marvelous 45.44 state record in the 400m. But Ricardo Chambers with 46.02 (Dwyer) was never intimidated. At 6' 3" striding smoothly like Carl Lewis and eating time effortlessly, Xavier was a sharp contrast to the power of Walter Dix. With a 10.38 and a 20.62 double the latter breaking Carter's 20.69 state record of 2003. Dix runs the whole way leaning forward like he was just coming out of the blocks. Beating the track to death with terrific leg turn over. Steam veritably coming out of his ears. He hasn't named a college yet. A coach told us that his grades were okay but that division I football coaches weren't standing in line. Of course we think that is a blessing. On Saturday afternoon high school boys were shouting "Xavier who?"
In the 800m Tim Harris ran a 1:49.75 and broke the record that Paul Cross and Sam Vasquez sought unsuccessful last year. The triple jump saw Matt Gorman's (Bucholz) 50-2 beaten by Edwisht Olmann (South Dade) 50-11.50. And a new state record in the pole vault was improved by a quarter of an inch to 15-9.50 by Ben Dickens (Douglas). However the pole vault, triple jump and long jump might just as well be held on the moon for the Gainesville venue is the very poorest of any division I track that we have seen in the United States. Even high schools don't hide these crowd pleasing events. The Gator Athletic Director should be ashamed to host the NCAA regionals on the 28th and 29th treating these events so shabbily.
So who is the best? Carter with nine titles? Dix with a record 20.62 and tieing the state record in 10.38 or Tim Harris with a state record of 1:49.75? Or two fifty foot triple jumpers or Lincoln's 41.04 hotly contested 4 x 1?? But after a mediocre high school, university and master's experience of digging in the mud for my implement, who is the best? The Charlotte whale, of course.
For those who lament that Doc Luckie's almost legendary performances in 1977 (65-04 and 200-05) will now be forgotten, let us relate that he is a hero once again. Last November we watched him save a woman from sure death by drowning 200 meters off the dock at Cedar Key Florida.
Girls - 2004
After dropping to fourth place last year, behind California, Texas and Indiana the Florida girls have hopefully improved. Of the 17 events this year we saw better performances in all but 5 events. The long jump, the discus, the 400 meters, the 4 x 100 and the 4 x 800. In the 400 meters brave but over extended Lauren Austin of Oak Ridge failed to better her last year's promising 53.61 and was beaten in the 200 by Oak Ridge team mate Britney Wilson's 23.98. With six races in mid 90 temperatures Lauren accumulated 28 points of her school's 104.50 winning score. Jenny Utecht of St. Thomas Aquinas who was so promising as a freshman and a sophomore finished her high school career never finding her niche. High school coaches should remember that there are heptathlon and decathlon meets where these versatile athletes can shine. We hope these competitors that sacrificed individual excellence for school points have caught the eye and the scholarship offered by division I schools with fully funded track programs.
In the hurdles in the previous week Shantia Moss (Pompano Beach-2A) broke the 100 meter record in the rain with a 13.53 that was later tied by Pavielle James from Miami Northwestern. Moss had the best 300 hurdles at 42.01. Lavera Morris of Oak Ridge ran a 2:09.90 half mile that would have been third in our comparison last year. Lady whale Misti Barber of Miami Carol City put the shot to a new state record of 49-07.50 and also won the discus at 152-05! But the queens of 2004 in Florida high school track and field were double winners and both are juniors. Viktoria Andonova (Coral Springs) moved the triple jump record to 42-05.25 and tied her own state high jump record at 6-0. But the diamond tiara goes to Jennifer Barringer (Oviedo) who did a 4:48.90 and a 10:35.36 in the 3200! They were both new state records! Her 1600 time would have been number one last year in our 9 state comparison. And her 3200 would have gotten her fourth! Jennifer and Viktoria have no competition in this state. Instead their schools, their friends and their families should attract the required funds to compete this summer and next in national and international high school and junior competition. Indoors and out. These girls are state treasures and may soon belong to the nation and the world. They can still compete in two events but please. NOT on the same day.
Doubling and tripling distance runners in over 90 degree Florida heat should cease! In our research northern states usually run distances in twenty degree cooler temperatures. And a lot of top high school track coaches are starting to realize that is more important to accumulate happy memories of athletes that they have helped attain NCAA dominance or Olympic excellence, than it is to recall those dusty state championship trophies, forgotten in some schools display case.
2004 FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL STATE MEET RECORDS GIRLS BOYS 11.68 Lauren Austin, Oak Ridge # 100 10.38 ** Walter Dix, Coral Springs # 23.93 Britney Wilson, Oak Ridge # 200 20.62 * Walter Dix, Coral Springs $ 54.37 Lauren Austin, Oak Ridge # 400 45.44 * Xavier Carter, Palm Bay $ 2:09.90* Lavera Morris, Oak Ridge # 800 1:49.75 *Tim Harris, Washing. # 4:48.90*Jennifer Barringer (11) Oviedo # 1600 4:16.23 Coleman Hoover, W. Park 10:35.36*J. Barringer (11) Oviedo # 3200 9:09.70 Tim Mc Leod (11) Epis. # 47.37 Miami Jackson 4 x 100 41.04 Tallahassee Lincoln # 3:43.84 * Miami Northwestern 4 x 400 3:17.77 Sanford Seminole 9:24.18 Bishop Kenney 4 x 800 7:48.39 Chiles # 13.53 *Shantia Moss, Pompano B.# 100 H 14.10 Andre Reid, Flanagan # 13.53 ** Pavielle James, M. Nw. # 42.01 Shantia Moss, Pompano B# 300H 37.12 Sanatus Peterson,Plantation # 6-0**Viktoria Andonova, C. Springs # H. J. 6-10 Dempsey Josinvil,Glades # 6-10 Errol Blockmon, Washing# 18-7.75 Zurina Suluki, Colonial L. J. 23-11.75 Matt Gorman,Bucholz# 42-5.25*Viktoria Andonova# T. J. 50-11.50 Ed Olmann, S. Dade # 12-6 Erica Hall, Leesburg # P. V. 15-9.50 * Ben Dickens, Douglas# 49-7.50 * Misti Barber, Carol C# S. P. 65-8.25* Wes Stockbarger, Char# 152-05 Misti Barber, Carol C. # Discus 203-6 * Wes Stockbarger, Char.# * State record ** Tied state record # Would have made last year's high school Track & Field News top 40 list. $ Would have been number one in the nation last year in high school. Bold name Should make the ALL TIME high school list - Track & Field News.
Who made "The Book"? Each year Jack Shepard of Track & Field News www.ShepWest@aol.com publishes a high school track book with selected major meet results with class and age records, last year's top 30-40 performances, all time top 30-40 performances, boys and girls, indoor and outdoor. He depends on track coachs and meet promoters to report distinguished performances. How good were the 2004 Florida high school state meets? There were 74 performances (37 boys and 37 girls) that would have made "The Book" last year. Congratulations!
Post script: So who is the best? After sufficient reflection, with knowledge and reason, the emotional bias of a very senior weight man reconsidered, we have to resort to the statistical beauty that sets track and field far above any of the games played with the different shaped balls and with rules that change from year to year. The premier 2004 Florida high school track and field male athletes in alphabetical order are: Carter and Dix