BOYS WINNER: Aklesso Agama - Senior @ Dade Christian
Dade Christian senior Aklesso Agama finished fifth at state last season in the long jump. After having knee surgery a year ago he bounced back in a big way in 2012 sweeping both the long jump and triple jump titles. Coach Shavar Jackson says Agama came into his final season on a mission.
"He is coming off injury so to do what he did and sweep those two events is a blessing. For him it's a driving force since he didn't place last year. He was hungry coming into this year and he said he was going to sweep both jumps and go about it and do it. To back up what you say you are going to do was huge."
Agama started off the afternoon with the long jump and leaped out to a mark of 22-11.75 which was good enough for the lead. This allowed him to take a look at what other jumpers we're doing and to sit back and conserve energy for the triple jump. Agama struck early again in the triple jump unleashing a 47-04.5 in the final jumps of the prelims. Coach Jackson says they decided to shut him down after that believing that would be good enough for the win. Overall he says he was very pleased with Agama's performance.
"He had a phenomenal day. He basically had his season best in the long jump and almost matched his personal best in the triple jump. We rested him this last week and he was able to get in the 47's. He was happy about it and the team was happy about it as well."
His Crusader teammates had every reason to be happy with a 20 point cushion heading into the running events setting them up for success for the rest of the meet. Agama also played an integral part in two relays running the anchor leg on the school's 4th place 4x1 team, and the third leg on the runner-up 4x4 team. Dade Christian finished second in the team standings behind Holy Trinity. Coach Jackson is happy his star senior could finish out his career with some hardware.
"It seems he always rises to the occasion. To see him go out as a state champion he was elated and happy. We set ourselves up for the overall state championship and seeing him on the podium as a senior was a great feeling. I'm a P.E. teacher and I've had him in my class since elementary school. To see him reach the climax in his career like that was awesome."
Dade Christian has had multiple state champions over the years, but in Jackson's eyes Agama is the best jumper he has coached. Next year, the senior will take his to Annapolis, Maryland and join the Naval Academy. Jackson says it will be a perfect fit for him because of his character and leadership abilities.
"He's like a second coach on the team because he helps with the younger jumpers we have. When I'm away teaching or coaching other runners he is helping me with the long jumpers and triple jumpers perfecting their technique. He's a great young man and I think that's a great place for him to go as far as the next level."
Aklesso's Athlete Profile
GIRLS WINNER: Robin Reynolds - Senior @ Miami Jackson
Miami Jackson senior Robin Reynolds continued to rewrite the history books at her final state meet. Reynolds day started off with a US#1 long jump of 20-06.25. It was all she needed to take home her 12th state title. Coach Donnell Jackson says it was all part of the plan to hit the winning jump on her first jump.
"All year long we've been trying to establish that and she did it at the last meet of her high school career. When she hit it I looked at her mother and said it was a 20 foot jump. When she knew she hit it had to be out there around 20 feet. Afterward, I said we won't jump again unless someone beats it or comes close to it because we wanted to save her legs for the rest of the running she had to do."
Reynolds hadn't eclipsed the 20 foot mark all season long, but had come close hitting 19-10, 19-11, and 19-11.5 over the course of the year. On her first jump she struck gold landing 20-06.25 later. The early leap allowed her to perform in six prelims on the afternoon and still maintain energy going into the finals. He says at the 2A finals Reynolds wanted to go out and put on a show for the fans more than any other meet.
"It was her last time out there and her intention was to go out and do her best and leave people with something to remember. She told me on the bus ride up that she was ready for this one."
The star sprinter started out by winning the 100 in 11.79 and following that up with a 52.59 victory in her specialty the 400 meter dash. That time is second nationally to her own 52.19 she set at regionals. The only thing that kept Reynolds from a perfect four win night was Lake Wales junior Sabria Hadley who edged her out by two one thousandths of a second. Coach Jackson says his star was disappointed in the beginning, but overall pleased with her accomplishments.
"She was a little disappointed and frustrated because that was in the record books and you don't get to do it again and knowing she got nudged out by an eyelash. I know she wanted four gold medals, but I told her to look at what she accomplished over her four years."
16 state championship events and 14 wins later, Reynolds will go down as the most decorated female track and field athlete in state history surpassing Benjamin standout Julian Reynolds (no relation) who won 13 state titles in six years from 1990-1995. When Reynolds first came to Miami Jackson coach Donnell Jackson was hesitant to put her in four events because he had never seen an athlete that was able to do it. He says Reynolds proved to him that she was a different athlete and has made a believer not just out of him, but out of everyone.
"I feel she is one of the greatest sprinters ever. I watched Sanya Richards-Ross, Erica Whipple, and Ebony Eutsey who is now at Florida. If I had to compare them to Robin I would say Robin would stack up against that group as one of the greatest track and field athletes to run in the state of Florida at this point. There will be some young whippersnapper who comes in and puts up great numbers, but I don't think there will be anyone who will put up those numbers in that short of a period of time."
Now that her high school career is over Reynolds will prepare for her collegiate days at the University of Florida. Coach Jackson believes the Gators and coach Mike Holloway are a good match for her as far as what she needs to get to the next level and that is the Olympics.
"I think she is looking at 2016. That is definitely in her sights. If she remains focused I think you will see her in a couple of Olympics and World Championships. People are going to say I remember her when she was in high school. Nobody has heard the last of Robin Reynolds."